Saturday, September 8, 2018

Practicing the Reality of the Christian Worldview: An Intellectually Coherent Lifestyle Methodology

Let's look at a progression from worldview to practice, quickly running through seven areas of growth in understanding and faith practice. 

1. Intellectual Coherence - A true worldview must make sense. If Christianity is actually the truth about everything, then we can and should be able to understand it in an intellectually coherent manner. Now, there will and in fact should be certain aspects of Christianity that are mysterious.  If we are in fact created beings created by an infinite God, then logically a system created by a God infinitely more knowledgeable and powerful than us will have aspects beyond our comprehension.  

We will also have to assume that God's moral viewpoint is higher than ours. That is the hard part.  Because often we can become quite indignant about our own moral viewpoints. But God's view must be higher and more clear, if He is in fact God of the universe and the creator of all ethics. 

Intellectual coherence means that God's existence is reasonable.  I've found that to be the case. Whether from science, history, manuscript authenticity, and real world experiences, there is a great amount of evidence that God exists. 

2. Experiential Relevance / Experiential Integration - As we recognize the reality of the Christian worldview, it becomes integrative, it changes how we see reality. The word of God is the codex to deciphering the perceivable universe. We can decrypt reality with the Biblical documents. 

This is difficult because a lot of us have opinions and viewpoints on things in the world that may have to change as Jesus transforms our worldview. But the goal is to see ultimate truth, and to see perceivable reality as it truly is, not as we would want it. That is difficult. It is very difficult.  Because we have strong viewpoints and opinions on many things. But if we allow the biblical documents to begin to transform our worldview, we'll begin to see the whole world with a new clarity that amazes us. 

3. Biblical Grounding - Our tendency as humans is toward drifting. If we're not moving toward something, we're actually being moved away from it. That's what it's like to swim in the current of this life.  Standing firmly on the scriptures is a dedicated approach to life, a dedicated total trust in the words of the scriptures to accurately depict reality and define ourselves, the past, the future, what it means to live ethically, and our future destiny.  There are four key tests of a worldview: Origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. And the Bible brings answers clearly to all four of those areas of philosophical concern. 

But the point here is, that our tendency is toward drifting. If we don't intentionally move toward a biblical worldview, we will drift away from one over time. The world is communicating a worldview that is systemically contrary to biblical Christianity.  If we aren't intentionally absorbing a biblical worldview, then we'll be unconsciously adopting a humanist/naturalistic worldview, or something even more spooky, like a cult, or extreme political ideology. 

4. Sustaining Dependence - Recognizing our infinite need for God, a sustaining relationship makes it possible for us to victoriously live out the Christian life. This sustaining relationship heals us, delivers us, guides us through difficulty, overcomes evil within us, and without us, and guides us toward our ultimate end destination.  

The will of God is constantly at work. Once again, without intentional focus on this connection, we drift. There is no standing still, we're either pressing forward or drifting away. 

Our relationship with God must be constantly developed. And we look to strive deeper and deeper with God, expanding the connection continuously, as God transforms us into the likeness of Christ. 

Take this relationship to a new level. Dedicate real time each day to this relationship. We can talk all we want about how "it's a relationship" but that doesn't mean anything if we aren't dedicating any time to it. The fact on the ground is, either we are really living in relationship with God, or we're really not. And our life and fruit (results of our actions practically) will show which is true, for all to see. 

5. Lifestyle Method - Ordering your life means living out the convictions of the truth on a daily basis. Week in and week out. A lifestyle method is the practice of our relationships with God first, with our marriage wife or husband, and our friendships, and relationships with people and the church. 

We need a weekly lifestyle method that we dedicate ourselves to. I mean a weekly pattern of life, a methodism of life.  I'll tell you about my method: Monday, morning prayer, work/school, 7pm basketball, 9pm-10:30pm bible study/ prayer time. Tuesday, morning prayer, work/school, homework time/relaxation, then bible study/prayer time 9pm-10:30pm.  That goes on day by day, week by week, and so on.  I try to carefully order my life, Bible studies, small groups, church services on Sunday, evangelism, and service work.  If we're followers of Jesus, we should order our lives carefully around Christian practices.

6. Missional Imperative - What takes priority? What is the mission of life?  The imperative comes from the truth. The truth is our theological core extracted from the biblical texts.  When we order our lives, we want to keep one unifying factor in sight: What is my chief imperative?  

An "imperative" is like the number one priority goal in the distance.  If I was a quarterback in the NFL, I would run plays each down, run plays, screen plays, short passes, and so on, but I would always have in mind the long term goal of getting the ball into the endzone for a touchdown.  

Our weekly practices are the daily things we do that build toward the imperative, the chief goal.  As Christians what is our chief goal in all we do? To carry the gospel to the lost, and to build up ourselves and fellow Christians in discipleship growth.  As I reflect on my weekly practices, I have to ask myself if I'm fulfilling the imperative.  And to take a real world example, I realized with my weekly practices that I was failing in my first chief imperative, to carry the gospel to the lost.  So I decided I needed to add a time of personal evangelism to my weekly practices.  The imperative keeps us on track when the weekly routine threatens to mull us down in programming and an all too familiar pattern.

7. Grasping Reality - The Eternal (Real) Perspective - What do we value most?  How does that need to change? 

"Do we really believe that what we believe is really real?" -Del Tackett.  

It's a good question.  Are we grasping true, ultimate reality?  Or we are caught up in the affairs of this world?  This can happen without us realizing it.  Pretty soon our Christian faith can become secondary to our concerns for marriage, for our children, for the house we want to buy, or the bills we need to pay, or climbing the corporate ladder at work, or just our entertainment, movies and music, or our elaborate plans to go on lavish vacations and carribean cruises. We can get bogged down in politics, in culture, even in art, or city life, or our Star Wars obsession, or a dozen other things of this world.  

We begin to focus on the worldly approach to life, being concerned with what makes me happy, with what gives me pleasure, and pretty soon the thought of God, of Christ, and the coming kingdom, the city of God on Earth, in the new heaven and new Earth is a very, very distant thought.  And it starts to not even feel real. And in extreme cases some will simply depart the church, depart the faith, and wade into the world, oblivious to the reality of God, and the coming judgment.  

Jesus Christ will return, and I am expecting him, very very soon. Jesus is coming soon. We will see him with our own eyes.  And we will see his kingdom come.  We will see him.  We will see this world, in fact, this entire universe destroyed completely, and remade, as the new heavens and new Earth, redesigned and engineered to perfection, with no pain, no fear, no shame, no sorrow, no anger, no depression, no disease, and no death.  It's a reality.  It's real.  It will happen.  The final point is simply this: Keep your eyes, the eyes of your heart, on the coming kingdom of Christ.  Keep your eyes on the eternal city of God which is depicted like this in Revelation: (Rev 21:10-27 NLT)

"So he took me in the Spirit[b] to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal. 12 The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.[c] 17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick[d] (according to the human standard used by the angel).

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones:[e] the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. 27 Nothing evil[f] will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life."