Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly aware of the growing dichotomy between the Christian worldview and that of the surrounding culture. Granted, these differences have always been there, at least to some extent, yet the chasm between the biblical view of reality and that of postmodern America has grown wider and deeper in recent years.
Hot button issues like sexual preference and abortion are really just the tip of the iceberg. As our culture becomes increasingly intolerant of the biblical worldview this social divide has the potential to create major problems for the church as a whole. Exacerbating this difficulty is the undeniable facts that the church’s numbers are declining while is social influence is increasingly marginalized.
All of these issues are multi-faceted, quite complex, and far beyond the scope of this short article. What I do hope to accomplish, however, is to present several reasons why this state of affairs should come as no surprise considering the nature of the biblical worldview and, at the same time, present a brief scriptural exhortation that is especially pertinent to today’s follower of Christ. With those thoughts in mind, lets get to it.
When Jesus Christ appeared on the scene he not only worked miracles, healed the sick, and cast out demons. These signs and wonders were incredible, but it was not these things that irritated the religious leaders of the day, not to mention the Roman officials. What caused fatal attention to be paid to Jesus was the absolutely radical nature of the “kingdom” he repeatedly preached about.
Jesus described a kingdom that operated according to principles that were diametrically opposed to the cultural values of his day. Those principles are eternal values that are as applicable to 21st century America as they were to 1st century Palestine. When we really look closely at the core ideas that Jesus put forth in his teachings, it is not at all surprising that we come into dramatic conflict with the values that undergird our existing cultural milieu. Few people describe this conflict as well as the eminent scholar of comparative religion Houston Smith:
…we have heard Jesus’ teachings so often that their edges have been worn smooth, dulling their glaring subversiveness. If we could recover their original impact, we too would be startled. Their beauty would not paper over the fact that they are “hard sayings,” presenting a scheme of values so counter to the usual as to shake us like the seismic collision of tectonic plates…We are told that we are not to resist evil but to turn the other cheek. The world assumes that evil must be resisted by every means available. We are told to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. The world assumes that friends are to be loved and enemies hated. We are told that the sun rises on the just and the unjust alike. The world considers this to be indiscriminating; it would like to see dark clouds withholding sunshine from evil people. We are told that outcasts and harlots enter the kingdom of God before many who are perfunctorily righteous. Unfair, we protest; respectable people should head the procession. We are told that the gate to salvation is narrow. The world would prefer it to be wide. We are told to be as carefree as birds and flowers. The world counsels prudence. We are told that it is more difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye. The world honors wealth. We are told that the happy people are those who are meek, who weep, who are merciful and pure in heart. The world assumes that it is the rich, the powerful, and the wellborn who should be happy. In all, a wind of freedom blows through these teachings that frightens the world and makes us want to deflect their effect by postponement – not yet, not yet! H.G. Wells was evidently right: either there was something mad about this man, or our hearts are still too small for his message.
Yes, perhaps our hearts are indeed still too small for his message. Each of us, I suspect, have our own unique ways of either ignoring or watering down Jesus’ teachings. I know I do. As a good friend of mine recently said, “Hey, I don’t want to be too rigid about these things. At best I would be a legalist and at worst, I would starve.”
The purpose of this article, however, is not to enter into a debate about whether we should or should not follow Christ’s principles one hundred percent. As stated earlier, one reason for writing this is to demonstrate that we should not be surprised that our faith increasingly finds itself in conflict with our culture. It was also mentioned that we wanted to look at a few scriptural passages that hopefully will supply a bit of needed inspiration to internalize a biblical worldview and as much as possible, live according to its values.
The qualitative difference between God’s wisdom and that of the world is spread throughout the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. For the sake of brevity, we will focus on one part of scripture in some degree of detail. It is my sincere hope that by doing so, you, the reader, may feel inspired and motivated to, at the very least, take stock of where you stand in terms of your worldview and to what extent that worldview is aligned with the biblical perspective.
To be continued. . . . .
(c) L.D. Turner 2014/All Rights Reserved