Competing Worldviews

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).

Living the Story

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.

Who Are You Trusting?

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?”

One-size-fits-all?…Nah!

About twenty-five years ago I took a graduate course titled, “Matthew as Story.” Jack Dean Kingsbury’s book by the same title was required reading. This literary (narrative) critical examination of the first gospel launched me on a trajectory that I could little anticipate. It is only within the last five that I consciously realized the connection.

Comparing/contrasting the plot of the four gospels reveals important information about their contexts. Reading today’s writers does likewise. I do not believe “one size fits all” works well with gospeling. Yes, our early attempts will likely follow more closely to one of the four than the other three, but even that reflects something about us. Either we are reflecting the choice of those who discipled us, we are reflecting which of the four has become our personal favorite, or we are reflecting a conscious decision based on our knowledge of the people group to whom we are speaking.

Before you invest the money in getting Choung’s book(s) translated into the language of your people group and distributed among them, make sure you do the same rigorous testing he did. Make sure the thought structures used in his books translate well into the worldview of your context. Recruit believers among this group to evaluate how helpful these resources will be.

When my friend tweeted me about Choung’s video, I responded from a cross-cultural context. My friend recently completed a master’s degree. He desires to move to Asia and serve as a cross-cultural missionary. I initially responded in light of our shared context (academics and love for missions). Later I Googled Choung’s web site and read his blog. As I have noted, I have not read his second book. My replies seek to apply what I have discovered on that web site to the video.

 

Hearing God

I am facilitating an adult Bible study class that is exploring the biblical material on “Hearing God.” We started by making a list of some of the ways God has spoken to his people. As Hebrews 1:1 points out, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways…” One of those ways is dreams and visions. We have spent the last two weeks exploring the role of dreams in the life of Joseph, the son of Israel (Genesis 37, 40 & 41).

We found that others may become jealous of dreamers. Joseph’s ten brothers heard the dreams about bowing before him from the context of Israel’s favoritism toward Rachel’s son. The idea that this brother with the brightly colored cloak would rule over them riled them and they plotted to kill him. Some people naively assume that knowledge of the future will be such a great blessing.

In chapter 40 Joseph is not the dreamer, but gets to be the interpreter. As we discovered God through the narrative of Joseph, the chief cupbearer and baker we arrived at a question raised by a counselor in the class, “Do you see God as setting up and arranging these events to get Joseph to accomplish his purposes, or do you see God as becoming involved in the free choices of the people involved, when needed to channel them to accomplish his purpose?”

Sounds like a great place to get lost in the Calvin/Arminius debate.

Not trying to be a smart-aleck, I left the class with a different question—“So what?” No, I did not raise this as a way of implying this is an irrelevant question. Thinking about God’s sovereignty and exploring the ways he accomplishes his purpose in the affairs of individuals, people groups and even nations is a very appropriate aspect of the Joseph, Israel and Egypt narrative. The way I want the class (and you) to grapple with the “So what?” question is much more personal. I am not too concerned with whether you come out nearer either of the aforementioned theologians. The point I want you to ponder is how does your understanding of God’s nature affect your daily walk?

“What do you learn about God from this passage?” is the most important question we can ask of a text, in my studied opinion. If we approach Scriptures like a new yearbook (“Where is my picture in here?”), rather than as the record of God’s self-revelation, we are misusing them. Is God the puppeteer who only creates the appearance that his puppets have a life of their own, or does he really call them to join him in what he is seeking to accomplish and grant them some level of freedom to accept/reject that call, and then adapt based on those choices to make sure his purpose comes to pass?

For some, their answer to “So what?” is they arrive at some level of fatalism. God controls everything so it is futile to will to do anything, including responding in obedience to any calling he has placed on our lives (intentionally overstated)! At the opposite extreme there is the potential that one assumes, “I must grab the wheel and steer this vehicle!—it is all up to me.”

Does my understanding of God lead to either extreme? Is there a better understanding? Where I come out on this matters. It impacts how I hear God. It does not alter his intended meaning, but it greatly shapes my hearing. Remember that Jesus calls those with ears to hear. Grasping God’s nature greatly impacts how we hear, thus how we respond.

What are you hearing from God? How are you responding?