As we develop a biblical/Christian worldview, and lead others to do the same, there are certain principles to keep in mind.
- Working with or working for God!
It is important to encourage others in their understanding and faith to believe. We are to help them place their trust in God and His Word. This cannot be accomplished by creating a religious system of rules and regulations for them to follow. Instead, our primary goal as pastors and leaders is to help others enter into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, we must have that relationship with Christ as well!
A relationship implies working together with God. He desires to work in us, His sons and daughters. We cooperate with this process by yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, as well as in the church. In this sense, we are partnering with God (John 15:15).
In contrast, the idea of working for God implies the employer/employee relationship, or a master/servant relationship. As believers, we are sons and daughters of the King – His friends and not servants (John 15:9-17). We gladly serve Him, but out of love and relationship. Our citizenship is from Heaven and we are ambassadors for our King!
- As a man thinks…
It is not what you say, but what you really believe that determines who you are: “For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7).
Many of the tests in life that God allows us to experience have one primary purpose: To confirm or deny that what we say we believe is in fact what we do believe (John 6:6, Deut 8:2).
Our actions speak louder than words. God is not looking for men and women who simply know the truth, but for those who will also do the truth. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt 7:26,27).
Our actions must be aligned with biblical principles. It has been said that as a man thinks, he will develop an action; as a man acts, he will develop a habit; as a man develops that habit, he will develop character; as a man develops character, he will develop a destiny. Our ultimate destiny is to be “conformed to the image of [Christ]” (Rom 8:29).
3. “Amen”, or Agreeing with God
It is important to examine what we believe, and then discern what does or does not align with the Word of God. God’s Word, the Bible, is the foundation upon which we build our core beliefs. That which God accepts, we must accept. That which God rejects, we must reject. We must agree (or “amen”) with Him (Amos 3:3).
There will be times when our personal experience or secular training will conflict with our understanding of what the Bible requires of us. It is during these times that our faith is tested.
Let us then take the attitude of the apostle Paul: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day”(2Tim 1:12).
4. Ambassadors for Christ
One of the primary responsibilities here on earth for every believer is to live as an ambassador for Christ. We have been given the authority to represent Jesus Christ our King to others (2Cor 5:20). This is why our personal transformation is so important! How can we represent Christ adequately if our lives or beliefs are not aligned with His?
We are to be ambassadors at all times – not just during times of ministry, but at home, in the workplace, in school or wherever else we might be. As we become more like Him, and are sensitive to be led by His Spirit, we will represent Him far more accurately to the world around us.
5. Seekers of Truth
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, Ps 119:160). We need to become seekers of truth as it is defined by the Bible.
The truth will set you free; a lie will put you in bondage! “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
A partial truth is still a lie. Something is either true, or it is not. Satan understands this, and often attempts to distort or twist the truth in order to tempt or deceive us. All that we believe and practice must align completely with the Bible!
6. Our Citizenship
Remember that as believers in Jesus Christ, our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil 3:20). Our worldview should be from a heavenly perspective. This means that the culture we live in or the traditions that we have are secondary to the fact that our home and our nationality is now from Heaven.
We are not Mexican, Indian, African, American, European or any other nationality, but we are first Christians! Our national patriotism, beliefs and traditions are secondary to our identity as Christians.
PASTOR TO PASTOR
I was once teaching a class on the topic of “Integrity” with a group of pastors. At the end, I mentioned that stealing is always wrong, regardless of the size or worth of what it is that’s being stolen. One pastor commented, “It is the custom in this country that when someone leaves something, like a wristwatch, and walks away from it, that it now becomes available for anyone to pick it up. Whoever picks it up can keep it, even if they know who left it behind.” I shocked them when I replied, “This is no longer your country, and the customs of this country do not apply to you! Your citizenship is now in Heaven, and the laws of Heaven are what we live by as Christians. God says, ‘You shall not steal.’ That is now your custom!” The pastors immediately understood the truth of the Word when they examined their custom against the standards of the Word of God.
7. Separating Culture from Doctrine
As we study the Bible, we must be careful to discern what is cultural (local) and what is doctrinal (universal). For example, in the New Testament there are four Gospels, each written to different audiences (local). But each Gospel contained only one (universal) message. That message was written, however, so that the audience receiving it could understand it:
- The Gospel of Matthew was written by a Jew to appeal to other Jews.
- The Gospel of Mark was written by a Jew who was appealing to Gentiles.
- The Gospel of Luke was written by a Gentile to other Gentiles.
- The Gospel of John was written to both Jews and Gentiles.
- The book of Romans was written to appeal to the Roman way of thinking.
- The book of Hebrews was written to appeal to the Hebrew traditions and mind.
In each case, care was taken to communicate in a manner that the people of those cultures and traditions (worldview) could understand. But never was the message of the Gospel changed or compromised to make it more acceptable to the culture.
PASTOR TO PASTOR
As pastors and leaders, we must be very careful to not fall into the trap of syncretism. Syncretism is blending or compromising the truth with other beliefs in order to make it more acceptable (or less offensive) to others. We must never change or compromise the Word of God in order to make it fit into an existing culture or practice.
- To say that Jesus is only a prophet, or just one of many gods because the culture believes in many gods, would be a serious compromise of doctrine and therefore heresy. It would lead to bondage and confusion. There is One God, One Savior, and that truth must be declared.
- To say that women must cover their heads in church (see 1 Corinthians 11:1-16) reflects a cultural practice, simply an expression of a local tradition of honoring God. It is not a doctrine.
- Do Not Be Ignorant
Paul the apostle opens Chapter 12 of his letter to the Corinthian church with a loving rebuke regarding not being ignorant of spiritual gifts (1Cor 12:1). This principle of “do not be ignorant” applies to many areas of our worldview. To be ignorant simply means to not know or not be aware of some fact or truth.
For example, there is an area where the common cultural practice is for husbands to beat their wives. At a recent conference, a minister taught from Ephesians 5 about the importance of loving your wife as Christ loves His Bride, the Church. The conviction of the Holy Spirit came upon the pastors, and they began to cry out in repentance. They had been raised in their culture to beat their wives, and were only doing what they saw their fathers and grandfathers do. They didn’t realize this practice was unbiblical, harmful to their spouses and displeased the Lord.
These pastors had their worldview change in an instant. They had a personal revelation of the truth of the Bible. The Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit set them free from cultural bondage into scriptural freedom in love. Hallelujah!
ARE YOU A CHICKEN OR AN EAGLE?
There was once a farmer who raised chickens. One day, as he was walking through the fields, he found a large egg. Wondering what kind of animal had produced it, he took it home to see if one of his chickens would sit on it and hatch it. A particular hen accepted the egg, even though the egg was larger than her others.
In the process of time, the hen’s eggs began to hatch. Out of each egg stumbled a little yellow chick. The strange new egg was the last to hatch, and out popped a large chick with big feet and a muddy gray color. As the other chickens observed this new addition, they all thought, “That is the ugliest looking chicken!”
Life was difficult for the young bird. Though he tried very hard to fit in, he was awkward and very un-chicken like. He had difficulty walking like the other chickens, and pecking at food was a challenge with his large crooked beak. It was not long before the other chickens began to avoid him because he seemed so odd. He felt isolated and rejected.
One day, while looking up at the sun, the young bird noticed two beautiful, majestic birds soaring high in the sky. They seemed to be circling over him, making sounds unlike any he had heard the chickens make. Their cry was strangely attractive, almost as if it were an invitation, “Come and fly with us.” The birds flew overhead for several days and then disappeared.
From that time on, the young bird could only think about flying, soaring with those majestic birds. But he knew chickens could not fly. Chickens are earthly, not heavenly!
Then one day, when no one was looking, this bird stretched out his wings and flapped them. Amazingly, he rose off the ground, gracefully and powerfully. But he was too afraid to actually fly away. “What would the other chickens say?”
So, he would secretly dream about flying, wanting to be like those birds he saw soaring in the sky instead of being an earthbound chicken.
As the days went by, those majestic birds returned. They again began to circle overhead. They were so high in the air, and yet he could hear them calling, “Come fly with us.” Something strange began to happen to the young bird. He suddenly threw his shoulders back, stretched out his wings, and with a strength and power he didn’t know he had, he began to fly!
Spiraling ever upward, with his eyes focused on the sun, he was soon soaring with those two strange birds. As he approached, he was startled to realize that he looked just like them. They were beautiful, powerful and majestic. Suddenly the revelation came to him, “I am not a chicken… I am an eagle!” Joy flooded his soul as he felt like he was where he belonged. For the first time in his life, he felt true love and acceptance.
One of the mature eagles said, “We were wondering why it took you so long to join us.”
The young eagle responded, “I didn’t know I was an eagle. Because I was born among chickens, and lived among chickens, I thought I was a chicken.”
The older eagle replied, “You acted like a chicken because you thought like a chicken; but, now that you know the truth, the truth has set you free… to be an eagle. This is what you were born to do. Your home is not in the chicken coop, but here with us in the heavens. Come let us soar…” “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa 40:31).
Christians are called to be eagles, not chickens! Though we may be in the world, we are not of the world. Our citizenship is in heaven. The transforming power of the Bible and the work and leading of the Holy Spirit are sufficient to overcome the negative impact and influence that the world has had upon our worldview.
It is truly an exciting adventure to begin to see ourselves, our families, our churches and our ministries as God see them. This is what a biblical worldview provides: to recognize that our citizenship is in Heaven; to see the world we live in from a more heavenly perspective; and to find our place in God’s Kingdom work as we are being transformed into Christ’s image more and more by His Spirit!
My prayer for you is that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:18). Amen!