Foundations for a Christian Worldview: First Things (7)
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second islike it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22.37-40
Aiming too low?
How do we measure progress in living our Christian worldview? Proponents of worldview have measures by which they determine the ways and extent to which their labors (disciplines) are enabling them to achieve their vision of the good and true life. The same must be true for those who hold a Christian worldview.
What outcomes does your church seek as a result of its efforts in your community? What about the other ministries you support? How do they measure their contribution to advancing a Christian worldview? And what do you look to in your church and the ministries you support, to assure you that your contribution is helping to advance the vision of God’s Kingdom coming on earth, as it is in heaven?
There is a danger here, that we aim too low, or aim wrongly in measuring our progress, and thus deceive ourselves about making any progress at all. We make two major mistakes in this regard, taking as barometers of the state of our worldview, false notions about what indicates progress in the good and true life.
Jesus has told us what the Christian worldview looks like as it unfolds, spreads, and advances in the Kingdom of God. And what Jesus holds out as the true measure of Christian worldview living, is love.
Two general and very significant outcomes define the ways the Christian worldview must be expressed: love for God and love for the people around us. Without love as motive and goal and manifestation of our vision and disciplines, all our numbers and programs and broadcasts and publications are nothing more than clanging cymbals, giving us great satisfaction in the crash and clash, but irritating the ears of all who are exposed to our empty bombast (1 Corinthians 13.1).
Love for God and for our neighbors are the indicators that we are on course in our Biblical worldview. These two outcomes are expressed in a wide range of ways, in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. In God’s Word, beginning in His Law, the true nature of love, and the powerful effects it has on people and their societies and cultures, are spelled out in many clear and compelling ways. Jesus insisted that we must begin in God’s Law and remain firmly rooted there in our desire to understand and practice the true nature of love. For when we lose contact with the Law of God – by neglect or outright dismissal, as is becoming increasingly fashionable among certain evangelical preachers and lay people – our love will grow cold (Matt. 24.12). And where love is cold, or non-existent, or merely a feeling we talk about but do not act on in sacrificial ways, then our faith has become ineffectual, and we need to examine ourselves and our worldview to get back on a proper course (2 Cor. 13.5).
We deceive ourselves if we think that making progress in the Christian worldview is merely a matter of numbers or ideas. Anyone can generate a large following, if he tells the people what they most want to hear, or satisfies their itches of one kind or another through activities and programs and other kinds of religious diversions. And the fact that some people have large followings, reach thousands on the radio or via the Internet, and distribute all kinds of books and pamphlets and speak out on every current issue or topic – this is no guarantee that a Christian worldview is operating as Jesus intends. And to the extent that we allow ourselves to become caught up in, or to contribute to and support such thinking, we siphon off energies and resources that could be fruitfully investied in growing in love for God and our neighbors within the framework of the Kingdom of God.
The first thing on love
Love is not simply an emotion, and, within the parameters of the Christian worldview, we are not free to define love merely in terms agreeable to us or the temper of our times. The true nature of love is defined by our Biblical vision – what Godsays love is – and how love is to be expressed in the Kingdom and Church of our Lord, as well as in our daily lives and callings. Love is not learned by sighing through smarmy sermons, tearing-up during syrupy praise songs, or jabbering away about Gospel stuff at endless meetings for study or fellowship. Love is developed and expressed through the disciplines prescribed in God’s Word, lived in all the time and situations of our lives, and proven in all our words and deeds.
And God’s Law, as Jesus indicated, is the starting-point for learning about true love.
The Law of God puts down the footprint for our Christian vision. It outlines the disciplineswe require in order to lay hold on the vision. And it guides us in outcomesthat vision and those disciplines should engender as love in our everyday lives. If we want to have a true Christian worldview we must begin where God and His Word do, at the beginning.
And the beginning of the Christian worldview is found in the writings of Moses, the Law of God.
Questions for reflection
1. Why are the “numbers game” and the “head trip” game not sufficient measures of Christian worldview progress?
2. How does your church measure its impact on your local community? How do love for God and neighbors impact into that measurement?
3. Why did Jesus put so much emphasis on the Law as the starting-point for learning to love God and our neighbors? Why do we tend to put so little stock in it?
Next steps – Preparation: Review the Ten Commandments. Beside each one, in your Bible margin or on a separate sheet, indicate one way you can increase in love for God and neighbor this week.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.