Yes, I know I crossed the line in my last post. I dared to contradict the maxim that Islam is the greatest enemy to Christianity. Let me explain something about my worldview. The greatest threat to Christianity is never any external force–not Islam, nor even secularism. Our greatest threat is ourselves.
Forgetting our identity in Christ is our greatest threat. Forgetting how our life story intersects with the story of the Kingdom of God is our great danger. Losing sight of what God has done for us and how that ought to affect our choices is our biggest temptation.
There are disciple makers in closed countries who lay it all on the line–every day. Muslim, Communist, totalitarian governments can make their lives difficult, but they cannot stop the transforming power of the gospel at work in the hearts of families. Stop allowing the politicians and/or the media to push your panic button. Stop losing sight of this reality that the Word of God reveals. Our “battle is not against flesh and blood.”
Living under the reign of the risen, exalted and ascended King Jesus is our calling. Saying, “Yes, Lord,” and meaning it is our purpose. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, Israel rejected the truth that the reign of God is enough when they demanded a king. Satan often tempts us to doubt that the Father has our best interests at heart (not just mine as an individual, but “our” as family, congregation, community, nation and world). Trust God!
Over the last few years Murfreesboro (my home town) has been thrust into international spotlight over opposition to a mosque that was constructed here. Numerous media have given the story extensive coverage. While some viewed this under the rubric of a clash between Islam and Christianity or tolerance and bigotry, there are probably stronger worldview clashes under the surface.
When politics and media wade into the fray, there are deeper dynamics. Murfreesboro is home of Middle Tennessee State University–the largest undergraduate university in our state. The news of opposition to the mosque played out differently there than people might have imagined. Secularists–folks who deny God’s continued involvement in our world (atheists and agnostics) loved the fracas. They were happy to see professed Christians looking intolerant. They relished the opportunity to portray all as bigots who talk about the Constitution, but are unwilling to honor its protections for other faith groups. Tragically, the young people at MTSU did not see us at our finest.
The worldview clash between Christians and Muslims became a smokescreen for the clash between secularism and faith in a Creator (something Christianity and Islam share). Odd, isn’t it? How many parents realized our response to this heated debate was potentially being leveraged by a much stronger third party?
Yes, there are marked conflicts between the worldview of Muslims and disciples of Jesus. But threat is far greater that our children will become secularists than Muslims.
Hold strong convictions. Exercise your freedom of speech. Realize how you say what you say is being gauged by those who know you best, too.
Seth Godin’s blog on Saturday, November 2, challenged:
“Tenacity is not the same as persistence. Persistence is doing something again and again until it works. It sounds like ‘pestering’ for a reason. Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work. Telemarketers are persistent, Nike is tenacious.”
His closing illustration reveals what many already know, Godin is a marketer. His usually-brief daily blog often proves insightful. Frequently I can see places where his insights transcend marketing.
A friend recently asked a group of Disciple Making Movements practitioners “what spiritual traits are needed to persevere until traction and finally multiplication happens?”
I replied, “A willingness to fail forward. Perfectionism prevents the risk-taking, trial-and-error learning that each new people group demands. Like a world-class tailor, there are basics of measuring, fitting and sewing that always apply. But each person is unique and that suit is going to hang differently. Ripping out seams and re-doing the work is often required.”
Intentionally passing on a biblical worldview to your children and grandchildren is not a “one-size-fits-all” endeavor. It will require “tenacity” as Godin defines it. We must be tenacious in reaching the goal of seeing the next two generations of our family owning a biblical worldview–relishing living under the reign of Christ! ” Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work.”
Current statistics on young people “leaving” church reveal that “the old ways didn’t work.” Will we become entrenched and persist in doing them harder, longer, faster, bigger, etc.? Or will we be tenacious and learn to make new decisions so we can find new pathways in order to find new ways? Don’t be surprised when those new ways reflect Deuteronomy 6!
Exploring the issue of the worldview development in children is a challenge. The people who really need to change are the parents. The adults who shape the worldview of the children are critical. One’s worldview is more caught (or absorbed) than taught. When faced with a crisis of belief, do I trust what I know God’s Word reveals, or do I place my reliance elsewhere? “What is real?”–the fundamental worldview question seeks to explore my subjective answer to this question. It deals more with my perception of reality than rational(istic) answers to this question.
Our children witness where our professions and actions agree. They also experience the places where our “actions ring so loudly in their ears they cannot hear a word we are saying!” Because children learn our non-verbal cues long before they understand our words, they always believe the non-verbal. How we say what we say is more powerful than the meaning of the words. Tone, pace and sarcasm can radically impact how words are received.
Children learn from their parents whenever they are with them. They know when we have cowered, like Saul. They know when our profession clashes with our daily choices. They sense our authentic inner self. The best children’s curricula is the faith their parents live. How momma and daddy walk daily overwhelms thousands of classes!
But worldview is shaped in youth. Parents of friends, teachers and coaches also model from their worldviews. Comics, books and movies all interact with their perceived world from a worldview perspective. Parents cannot shelter their children from exposure to other worldviews. But they can raise them up to be discerning.
Moses says, “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous sign and wonders–great and terrible–upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers. The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness'” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).
Your worldview must be diligently communicated to your children and grandchildren! Do not assume they will get it by osmosis. Yes, there is much that they will absorb, but there are always competing worldviews in any culture. We are finally waking up to this reality here in North America. While this has always been true here, only a fool can deny the reality at the present time.
Earlier, Moses has given them the key: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
To the first-time Bible reader, Deuteronomy may appear repetitive. Much of the material in this book might be viewed as a rehash of sections of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. But for the careful reader, it is obvious that this is not needless repetition. In the narrative flow, a generation who experienced the exodus from Egypt has died during the forty years in the wilderness. Now their children and grandchildren are the adults who are about to enter the land that had been promised to their ancestors.
Moses warns they are about to be given, “a land with large flourishing cities [they] did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things [they] did not provide, wells [they] did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves [they] did not plant.” An abundance is about to be received that comes from God’s provision, not their own labor. “[W]hen you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).
Even those who have experienced God speaking from the mountain and providing for them for forty years are in danger of forgetting. But their children and grandchildren will be especially at risk. The radical worldview shift of their exodus must be passed on intentionally to subsequent generations.
Saul reveals humanity clothed in self-reliance. David knows he cannot trust these things, “because I am not used to them.” Yes, he has experience with his staff, smooth stones and his sling. But David is not relying on these, or himself. David knows that the battle belongs to the Lord. This confrontation is much like the one that will happen hundreds of years latter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Goliath has defied the God of Israel. His failure to recognize Who is really reigning is fundamental.
David and Goliath is a story about a crisis of belief. Saul should lead Israel to battle by confronting Goliath. That was what the people said they wanted a king to do. But in David we see God’s willingness to use the least likely to accomplish His purpose. God will get the glory for the victory over the giant and the Philistines.
Who do we trust, really?
Do we as parents live more like David or Saul? When our lives entail giants which appear capable of swatting us away like a fly, do we wait for someone else, like Saul waited? Do our children see us drawing confidence from our earlier experiences of God’s provision? What are the lion and bear stories from your life journey with God?
Are you depending on your technology more than on the Creator? Are you happy to have someone else face your giants with simple faith? Are you keen to see the deficiencies in your resources and stay on the back lines of the conflict?
How we tell the story is important. How we live it is more significant, though.
In the story line of 1 Samuel, the encounter of David and Goliath contrasts the worldview of David with that of King Saul. God has chosen Saul to be the king the people thought they wanted. Standing head and shoulders above his peers, Saul is the one who is supposed to lead the people into battle. While the conversation between David and the giant is significant to the story, the one between David and Saul is crucial. It appears this story is taken out of chronological order (the general arrangement of the book). The narrator has already introduced David’s presence in Saul’s court when he comes to play the harp. David has already been anointed to be the next king in an earlier overview section.
The conflict with the Philistines and especially with Goliath reveals a fundamental difference between Saul and David–their views of God and how that affects their approach to warfare against their enemies. Saul relies on himself and his armor. Often the artwork illustrating this scene presents a boy who is twelve or younger foolishly trying to mimic an adult. Saul’s actions, though, are not foolish because David is too small, the issue is contained in the question, “In what/whom are you trusting?”
It is great that the stories of the Bible are so integral to children’s curricula. But I am concerned that it often focuses too heavily on exploring what the human characters do.
Consider the story of David and Goliath. Traditional approaches make David the hero, whose behavior is to be imitated. Goliath is the villain and his behavior is to be avoided (if his role is explored at all). The actions of King Saul and the other soldiers (for example, David’s brothers) are also noted as negative examples of fear.
But the main character of this story is too often ignored.
Who is this story really about? Ask David. Whose reputation is David concerned about? How is it that David has so much confidence when everyone around him is terrified? David’s heroic behavior arises from his worldview that sets his beliefs and grounds his values. David knows who the main character is–God!
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:45, 46 NIV)
I want to create a dialogue about the spiritual formation of children. Realize that 35% of the world’s population falls in the ages of 4-14 years old. What if we adapted the best of chronological storying, discovery processes and obedience-based discipleship to the character development of children? What if we began to intentionally form the worldview of the children around us? What if we developed materials that others could use to shape the worldview of their children?
Most of the worldview studies I have read assume people already have a developed worldview since they are largely discussing adults. My earlier posts explored the value of using storying to reset worldview in people who grew up with something other than a Judeo-Christian one. A discovery process is critical to allow the biblical message to sink deep enough for a Kingdom of Heaven worldview to begin replacing the existing worldview. For children, the process is simpler since it is about the initial formation of the answers to the critical questions.
Kwast, “Understanding Culture”
Parenting often focuses on the “Behavior–What is done?” level. We want our children to behave in ways that allow them to fit into their culture. We want them to stand out as exceptional, without standing out as “weird.” We want them to value things the way we do. We want them to believe like we do. But often we fail to consider the question of “What is real?” We assume the answers we have for such a question are self-evident, thus they will automatically be held by our children. Is such an assumption wise?
While behavior is important, the emerging values, beliefs and worldview which drive it are critical. Be sure your parenting and grand parenting goes deeper!