Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Spiritual and Religious (2)
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” Exodus 3.2, 3
Worldview in a bush
In the incident of the burning bush, Moses glimpsed a worldview unlike any other.
Here was a familiar physical reality, a common bush. Bushes were everywhere in Midian, and few people thought of them in any way other than as a source of a little shade on a hot afternoon. Moses had never seen a bush like this. This bush had been invaded and overtaken by a mystery – fire, burning from within its midst. But, rather than be consumed by that mystery, the bush was wondrously illuminated and seemed to be alive in a strange and inviting way.
The fire Moses observed was no ordinary fire. In fact, it was not a physical fire at all, but the fire that accompanies the living God (Ps. 18.8-12) – a spiritual fire that illuminates, attracts, and vivifies, without consuming or destroying that which it draws unto itself. The fire was the very glory of God, signaling His presence, and summoning His chosen vessel.
The glory which illuminated, but did not consume, that bush indicated the presence of the Word of God, the “Messenger” (Angel) from God, Who had come to summon Moses to a reality and calling greater than he had ever known.
The worldview which begins to emerge in the Law of God is like that burning bush. It comes to us in a familiar physical form – words on the pages of a book. But these words are living and active (Heb. 4.12). They are fraught with glory and transforming power (2 Cor. 3.12-18). These words issue from, are sustained by, and carry the purifying fire of God, which is His Spirit (Ex. 31.18; cf. Jn. 6.63; Lk. 11.20/Matt. 12.28). And they convey the very Word and presence of God Himself, creating a space of holiness into which God draws all whom He is calling unto Himself by grace through faith.
The worldview revealed in the Word of God, beginning in His Law, illuminates life and its meaning, attracts all to whom it is revealed, and brings new life of a wholly different order – spiritual life, life from above, a life of glory, and life unquenchable and eternal.
A spiritual worldview
The secular worldview, which is, to some extent, the dominant life paradigm for most people today, is a “this-world” worldview. That is, it unfolds around whatever we can see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. It is material in its focus and aspirations. And this makes it a closed and confining worldview. Advocates of a secular worldview simply dismiss the possibility of anything other than material realities, and thus allow no place for God or spirits or souls.
The worldview revealed in the Law of God, however, makes it clear from the beginning that we inhabit a world that is more than material, a world that includes such spiritual realities as God, His Word, His Spirit, other spiritual beings, and something in human beings – such as Moses – that can connect with that dimension. Those realities have been present from the beginning of this material world (Gen. 1.1), and they pervade and sustain and define this world, that the glory of God may be known in it.
To understand and enter the worldview revealed in God’s Law, we must approach it spiritually, in an attitude of fear, wonder, submission, and anticipation. We must receive it as coming to us from beyond this world, from the very presence of God. We will need to listen to the Word of God to gain the message God has for us. Some things will seem strange to us, and not easy to understand. The Word that burned from that bush will speak to us of how the illuminating and purifying fire of God can guide and empower us for full and abundant life. We will be tempted to doubt and draw back, or to prefer our own way of thinking about matters; but we must remember Moses, and, determined to know the fire of God, always seek to draw nearer to Him and His Word, so that His warmth and light can transform us as it did him.
The Christian worldview is a spiritual worldview, and as such, it embraces mysteries and unseen things, and it insists, according to the bush and the Book, that the entire world is infused with realities we cannot see, but that, by obeying like Moses, we can truly know, and thus be gloriously illuminated.
A religious worldview
The Law of God begins the revelation of the heart and mind of God, as it outlines His wisdom for how human beings may know full and abundant life.
The Law of God is written on the souls of human beings when they are conceived and born into the world (Rom. 2.14, 15). It is written again when the Spirit begets us into the Kingdom of God by grace through faith (Ezek. 36.26, 27). By the works of the Law, written on our hearts, together with the revelation of God throughout creation (Rom. 1.18-20), we know that the fire of God burns in and all around us. By His Law He commands us to prepare for holiness, and to seek it diligently (Ex. 3.5; Lev. 11.44; 2 Cor. 7.1).
The Word of God in His Law comes to bind us to the Lord for holiness (Rom. 7.12), to unite our material and spiritual being in His all-transforming fire, that we might be refined, renewed, and sent out to light the world with His glory. The worldview of God’s Law is thus a religious worldview, which can only be fully entered and enjoyed through a growing relationship with the God of the bush.
If we would enter this worldview, therefore, we must learn to see within the written Law, the heart, mind, and priorities of God, and the larger world of spiritual truth to which He has called us. The Law will only entangle and snare us, like the branches of a bush, unless we set our souls to submit to the Spirit of God and His good and perfect will for us in what is written there (cf. Rom. 8.5-9).
Like Moses, we must remove the sandals of our worldly walk and approach the Lord open and vulnerable, on bare feet, as it were, fearful of His presence, but confident in His calling and grace, that we will not be consumed by what we encounter in God’s Law, but will instead be illuminated, vivified, and empowered. Like a moth circling a candle, we are drawn to the Light, in full confidence that we can enter it and not be destroyed, but be made wholly and entirely new – and everything in our world as well.
1. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” What did he mean? How does this make the world like the burning bush?
2. How are the Scriptures like the burning bush? Why were the Scriptures given to us?
3. Living a Christian worldview requires a mind of faith and a heart of obedience. Explain.
Next steps – Transformation: Do you read your Bible to see the glow of God’s glory in it? Do you read it to see Jesus in every passage? How might you begin to be more consistent in reading your Bible this way?
The Christian worldview focuses on Jesus. Do you know Him? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer that question confidently, and equip you to tell others about Jesus as well. Order your copy by clicking here. For a handy compendium of the laws, statutes, and precepts contained in the Law of God, grouped according to the Ten Commandments, order our book, The Law of God, by clicking here.
At The Ailbe Seminary, all our courses are designed to help you grow in your Christian worldview. Watch this brief video (click here) to get an overview of our curriculum, and to see again the place of Jesus in the Christian worldview.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.