Jesus glasses

Do we see God and the world as Jesus does? When we follow Jesus, we get new “lenses” by which to view the world, and we see it in new ways.

0
556

Although words and signs were increasingly blurry, I didn’t realize I needed glasses until I had an eye exam. When the doctor gave me sample lenses to look through, I realized how fuzzy my vision was. When I got my own glasses, I was amazed at the clarity they provided. I could see the speed limit signs!

Something similar happens when we become followers of Christ. When we grow up in a culture, we don’t really question the way we see things. It’s not until we see Christ and begin to see life through Christ that we realize how fuzzy our cultural “vision” has been.

Christians sometimes call these new lenses a “Christian worldview.” By this they mean a new—and Christian—way of viewing and understanding the world. And in one way, this makes total sense. Before following Christ, we make sense of life via a set of cultural assumptions. Maybe this includes another religion or a mix of religions. Or perhaps it isn’t based on any religion at all—a “secular” viewpoint.

Before following Christ, we make sense of life via a set of cultural assumptions. Maybe this includes another religion or a mix of religions. Or perhaps it isn’t based on any religion at all—a “secular” viewpoint.

But when we start following Jesus and reading the Bible, we get new “lenses” by which to view the world, and we see it in new ways.

But when we start following Jesus and reading the Bible, we get new “lenses” by which to view the world, and we see it in new ways. In their book, An Introduction to Christian Worldview, Tawa Anderson et al suggest that these new “lenses” give us answers to four core questions: What is our world? What is our nature? What is our problem? What is our end?

Challenges 

Certainly, this can be helpful. But focusing on a “Christian worldview” also has some challenges. One is that, as Anderson points out, Christians quickly differ on some of the specifics of each answer.

For instance, Christians certainly can agree on the big things, such as the presence of a God that created the world (answering the first question above). We may even agree on some common characteristics, such as the goodness of God. But we quickly start differing on the details. For instance, churches have long disagreed on how to square God’s goodness with the presence of evil. How does a good God allow for such evil in creation? It can be hard to decide what exactly is the Christian worldview.

A second challenge to the idea of a Christian worldview is that our “universal” worldview will always reflect some of our cultural ways of thinking. We can agree that God’s truth transcends culture, and there will come a time when, as Paul says, we will “see everything with perfect clarity.” But for now, we “see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror” (1 Cor.13:12, NLT). Try as we might, our Christian worldview will always be influenced by the cultural ways we talk about and make sense of things.

A third challenge is that, as Philip Ryken says in Christian Worldview: A Student’s Guide, Christians can unfortunately “use the right worldview for the wrong reasons…hijacking the Christian faith for their social, political or ecclesiastical reasons.” Christians have used biblical principles to defend everything from medieval crusades to slavery, and we should have the humility to realize that we can be susceptible to the same tendency.

A “Jesus worldview”

It can certainly be helpful to think about a “Christian” worldview. However, because of these challenges and after living in and among various cultures and religions for many years, I am beginning to focus more on what I call a “Jesus worldview.” Whatever our differences, Christians can (hopefully) agree that we should do our best to view and live in the world via what our leader and Savior said and did. If this is the case, here are some questions—and possible answers—that a “Jesus worldview” might include.

A Jesus worldview begins with the recognition that God is a God of truth.

How does Jesus relate to God? Undoubtedly Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, has a unique relationship with God. And yet, he also sought to model for his disciples the ways they could view and relate to God. A Jesus worldview begins with the recognition that God is a God of truth.

What truths does Jesus highlight? A key truth is that we can know and relate to a God who loves and takes great joy in the people and work God has created. In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says it like this: “Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world…. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices.” A Jesus worldview highlights a God who takes delight in us—all of us! A God who is close to everyone and invites us to be close to him.

How does Jesus relate to people? In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples to be a light to the world. That they should stand apart from their culture and be a shining beacon of the good news. This isn’t a new idea to Jesus’ disciples. Everyone knows how the religious leaders of the day love to stand apart from others and to do so in the name of God. But it isn’t enough just to stand out. They need to do so for the right reasons.

What makes Jesus and his disciples stand out and be beacons for God’s kingdom? Interestingly, it isn’t their ability to defend the right beliefs. Rather, it is their love and care for others, particularly the poor, mournful, meek, vulnerable and overlooked of society. Jesus’ harshest criticisms are directed at Jewish leaders whose “worldviews” are closest to his, but who fail to love the people God loves. A Jesus worldview loves and cares for people in the way that God does, regardless of their ethnicity, status, etc.

How does Jesus relate to the world’s problems? Jesus and his disciples believe in the reality of sin. People commit sinful acts, even sinful thoughts, and need forgiveness. Many people in Jesus’ day were also guilty of the sin of not believing that Jesus was the Messiah (John 8:24). All this needed correction, confession and forgiveness. But Jesus does not spend much time talking about sin per se. In the book of Matthew, for example, he uses the word itself only five times. But this doesn’t mean there weren’t deep problems in society. There was much that needed correcting.

A Jesus worldview sees sin and brokenness in all its forms and asks his disciples to consider how Jesus wants to bring God’s shalom to it.

The poor needed good news. The captives needed releasing. The blind needed sight. The oppressed needed freedom (Luke 4:18). Jesus healed spiritual brokenness, but also social, physical and emotional brokenness. A Jesus worldview sees sin and brokenness in all its forms and asks his disciples to consider how Jesus wants to bring God’s shalom to it.

For Jesus, where is everything headed? Certainly, Jesus has a view of life after death that is very different from other religions. He clearly does not believe in reincarnation, for example. He talks about a place of torment in the afterlife and of heaven (Luke 16:19-31). But as any student of the Bible knows, Jesus says very little about these things.

Jesus talks mostly about the coming of the kingdom of God; that it is arriving with him and extending on into the future of this world and the world to come (Luke 10:9; 13:29). Jesus is not, as the old adage goes, so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good. There is a big picture, but he is content and wants his disciples to be content. Jesus is content to let the far future and the afterlife remain a bit of a mystery. What he wants his disciples to focus on is bringing heaven to earth, now.

Conclusion

I long for “glasses” that help me make sense of all the issues and controversies in our culture. We all want a Christian worldview to help us. Unfortunately, what we’re given is often strangely similar to the latest versions of conservative theology, “ethical conclusions that I agree with” or American/Christian nationalism.

But Jesus never offers these kinds of glasses to his disciples. His glasses, the Jesus worldview, was and is a radical commitment to be like him and to see God and the world as he does. To move forward with the Bible and the Spirit in us and to love others and live faithfully in a world that needs Jesus, not the latest version of a Christian worldview.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here