Last Sunday we considered what a worldview is. We recognize that everyone has a worldview. We also recognized that in the shifting and conflicting worldviews that are available in our culture (modern vs. postmodern) there is a different option for Christians a biblical worldview, that sees the world how God sees it. God gives us a new set of lens that enable us to see the world clearly.
Today, staying with the metaphor of the lenses, we might consider this: How do we get those lenses and what exactly do things look like through them (what are the characteristics of a biblical worldview)? I have to say from the start that developing a biblical, or Christ-like, worldview isnt something that happens instantly. Unlike Lenscrafters, we cannot get our new view in an hour or less. However, the good news is that it is simple to enter into the way of life that cultivates and proclaims this worldview. This is a process, not a prescription, because we have to learn to believe and act like our Lord Jesus. And learning to be like Jesus isnt a matter of studying a handbook; it is an apprenticeship in which we learn the craft of true living. For we dont simply learn about Jesus as if he is some historical person, we learn from him for he is living and rule as Lord. When we come to Jesus and receive the kingdom rule of Christ through faith and baptism, our "lenses" are reshaped in his presence as we worship him, we come to know him as we spend time being nurtured in Christian community, and we become like him as we actively serve others in the spirit of Christ doing what he would do.
Developing and proclaiming a biblical worldview is a lifelong discipline, but we begin somewhere. So for our worship today, lets begin where Jesus began when he proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes are Jesus proclamation of the good news of Gods future rule invading the present. Jesus pronounces blessings and issues a summons to see the world from heavens vantage point. He calls us to a way of belief and practice that cuts against the grain of the worldview of the fallen world. Listen carefully to the Beatitudes as a proclamation of a very different way of life not just good news for the unfortunate or proverbs of good basic morals. This is a declaration about the way God is making a new creation ...
Read Matthew 5:1-12
This new creation has serious implications for you and me. [Illustration] Theres a sinful order to this present world that is fading away and decaying. And like most of the world, you and I have formed some of our worldview on this order of things. But theres a new order of things emerging into this world. Its the way of things that will ultimately endure. It is the order of the world that will prevail. And we are called to actively develop a worldview that shapes our belief and action around this new order of creation. The Beatitudes are the proclamation of a kingdom worldview and we are called by the promise of Gods blessings to be reoriented and changed to adopt this worldview.
And to properly hear this proclamation lets take a moment to consider how challenging this new worldview really is. First, think about who is blessed. Think about those adjectives without their gilded, sanctified context. Who blessed? Those who are ... poor, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting, merciful, pure, peacemakers, persecuted. It is not our typical image of blessed. It doesnt fit the worldview of our age nor does it fit the worldview proclaimed by many churches! We might expect to say that those who are blessed are successful, content, confident, satisfied, determined, benevolent, influential, and respected. [Have you ever thought that leaders in the church ought to be poor, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting, merciful, pure, peacemakers, persecuted? Could these be qualifications for elders? Characteristics of the minister a church wants to hire? Are these characteristics of a purpose-driven life?] These adjectives and blessing can only be reconciled by the wisdom of the cross and a kingdom worldview. The wisdom of our world and the worldview of our culture cannot connect these.
The Beatitudes indicate four fundamental characteristics of a biblical worldview that enable us to see the world and live in the world "perfectly." These characteristics are trust in God, hope of Gods Rule, love for God and others, and the peace of God. (Note to reader - I am indebted to two excellent sources for this outline: J. Brownson, et al, Stormfront: The Good News of God, Eerdmans, 2003; and R. Lischer, "The Sermon on the Mount as Radical Pastoral Care," Interpretation 41(2002): 157-183.)
Trust in God Blessed are the Poor in Spirit and the Meek
In God We Trust! Do we? It runs counter to the worldview of this age: we trust in rights, laws, influence, status, success, and the security and power of wealth (even some of our principles about stewardship are rooted in a trust in the accumulation of wealth rather than trust in God A church I knew kept its wealth in a savings account for years without contributing to much of anything).
Poor? Really? Doesnt poor in spirit mean something other than wealth? Yes, but it certainly includes those who are limited in the resources of wealth. Maybe the fact that we don't think the Beatitudes apply to us shows how our worldview is skewed.
Meek? Is anyone really meek anymore? Sure it suits pilgrims and Amish, but can that truly be respected in our media-based, image-driven age?
Churches are sometimes driven to be successful and relevant in the eyes of the world. Seminars and products in the Church growth field promise ways to attract new members and provide something for everyone. These are not nefarious schemes to undermine the church. There are many good motives and intentions, but how many church growth resources invite us to become poor in spirit so we might receive the kingdom of God? It is a subtle distortion of the worldview that creates this problem. When we strive to be like Jesus we see him taking a different path He had all the power of heaven and earth at his command, but he trusted in God and did not take advantage of that power and wealth. He was poor in spirit.
Hope of Gods Rule Those that Mourn and the Merciful
In the kingdom we have hope because the worst things are never the last things. A biblical worldview doesnt deny that we mourn. Perhaps this is how our worldview is so different from the world. [Prov. about wisdom and mourning] Our culture medicates with idle entertainment and pleasure: "We want our MTV!" We spend time basking in the glow of ever-growing television channels. We watch or go to sporting events to purge our emotions. We seek thrills in any number of socially acceptable addictions shopping, soft-porn magazines and websites that dont have to be sold in the adult section. These quick thrills are for people trying to escape the reality of hurt and disappointment. They are all ways of insulating ourselves from the disappointment and suffering of the world. And we deny ourselves healing because we do not mourn. The Christian worldview on Mourning is unique because it leads to hope The worldly worldview by contrast is hopeless.
As a minister, people ask me how I can function in tragedy and sorrow: "I guess you are trained to do that?" they ask. Not really! In fact, there's no secret technique. My training is the development of the Christ-like worldview that reshapes my view of reality. We grieve -but not like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We mourn over the brokenness and death and pain in the world, but we are blessed for we shall be comforted by God.
Mercy cannot survive or exist without hope. Look at the way people responded to 9/11. Those without hope cannot let go of the event. They hate rather than forgive. Something has to be done about evil, but the Christian worldview hopes for God's justice, and is not satisfied by our temporary substitutes. Mercy and hope take courage and strength.
In history and cultures mercy is often viewed as immoral - As our culture loses hope in Gods Rule and hope for nothing more than our own authority, we lose mercy. In our cut -throat culture of business and government, we call it competition, politics, or aggressive success.
To see the world like Jesus does means that love and hope cast out fear. We are not afraid to show mercy, for we know that we have received mercy under Gods rule. And we are not afraid to admit that we mourn because we know that Gods rule does not shame those who mourn, but offers comfort.
Love for God and Others Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness and the Pure in Heart
Jesus gives us the core of biblical teaching and thats a central characteristic of a biblical worldview. Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the Greatest Commandment. God sent Jesus so that we might be reconciled to him and Jesus sends us so we might also be reconciled with one another. See what Jesus said about righteousness: "Be perfect (or complete) like God is perfect." Later in the sermon he describes this radical call to righteousness. It is more than following the rules. In fact if all youve ever heard are the rules, then Jesus will take it a step further: The problem isnt just murder, but the anger that is the seed of murder and the opposite of love. The problem isnt just adultery, but the lust that objectifies others and uses people. The problem isnt just keeping the law with regard to divorce, but losing the love that is the basis of marital relationship. The problem isnt the legality of a binding power of an oath, but the dishonesty that doesnt respect others and doesnt honor God.
Righteousness is rooted in building the proper loving relationship with God and one another. How practical is this as the basis of our worldview. It can change the relationships between human beings, men and women, husbands and wives, friends and enemies. Beatitudes are communal!
But for our righteousness to be Gods perfect righteousness we have to seek his face. We want to be pure in heart. Self-righteousness is hypocrisy because it isn't concerned for anyone but self. It is arrogant puffed up and rude. We know we are better than those who dont keep the rules. That sort of thinking comes from the wrong worldview. In the Kingdom purity is devotion to God even before devotion to self thats the single eye Jesus teaches us to have. That the eye that will be blessed, for with it we will see God!
Peace of God Blessed are the Peacemakers and the Persecuted
This is at the core of Making Disciples. In making disciples, or evangelizing, we are not recruiting new members for the church! (I once encountered this statement in the church "If we have budget problems then we need to get busy with evangelism it is the best way to increase membership and contribution." Often the statement is made that crassly, but I think that recruitment and survival of the church is what motivates us.) This is why our worldview has a lot to do with evangelism. Are we trying to grow the church, or are we pursuing the cause of Gods peace? With a biblical worldview we believe that God grows the church and he preserves it. We see ourselves as Peacemakers and we are instruments of Peace. Paul viewed his ministry of making disciples like this: 2 Corinthians 5:16 - So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
When we realize how sinful we all are then the way to peace is made clear and we call everyone to be reconciled to God. Of course the peace of the rule of King Jesus threatens the values and ways of the world. They are in rebellion and that creates conflict. Proclaiming a biblical worldview is dangerous. As someone once said, "Living out the Beatitudes will get you killed." Closing charge Matthew 7:24-29 - Hearing and doing (Wise man and Foolish man) What foundation will you build your life on this week?
Making Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others
Notes for the Sermon "Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview" Part 2
October 17, 2004
Matthew 5:3, 5 T__________ in God
Matthew 5:4, 7 H__________ of Gods Rule
Matthew 5:6, 8 L________ for God and Others
Matthew 5:9-10 P_________ of God
Making Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others
"Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview" Part 2
Driving It Home Discussion Guide
October 17, 2004
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