Even though a majority of Americans say either that they are Christian or that they believe the Christian God exists (even though they may have no allegiance to him) the world viewof Americans is not predominantly Christian. In fact, it could probably be said safely that never at any time in any location has the world view of any group actually been Christian. Many readers will dispute that statement, and they all have their reasons for doing so. We should examine it.
First, it is important to define the terms at issue – Christian worldview and American worldview. There could be a number of other worldviews. There could be many variants of American worldviews. There could be many Christians who claim a Christian worldview although they differ from each other dramatically. This is part of the problem for a writer or teacher who wants to dive into this subject at all. That being the case, I shall explain what this writer means.
Christian worldview is the worldview Christ exemplified and to which he called his followers. Jesus came to earth to die, and when he explained to his disciples why he had come, they became upset. They argued with him and wanted him to stop talking that way. Jesus said to them, “You are looking at things with a human world view, not a divine world view.” (Mark 8:33) Then he told them that if they wanted to follow him, they had to agree to die, too, and they were baffled by the whole idea. He said, “You want to follow me? Die to self, and then get ready to die with me.” (Mark 8:34) They truly did not understand what he was talking about, and we Christians today don’t understand very well, either. We go around saying that God wants us to succeed, or that God wants us to fulfill our dreams, and that is absolutely not the Christian worldview.
That is the American worldview. America has always been the place where people went to fulfill their dreams. The freedom and prosperity of this nation has encouraged people to accomplish great things, and the accomplishment of great things has inspired others to attempt greater things. Accomplishment, achievement, financial and professional success – these are the hallmarks of the American worldview. There is nothing wrong with it, but it isn’t the Christian worldview. When Christian writers and teachers advocate these ideas they are not doing anything unique, and they are not calling people to be Christlike. Christlike people die to self and live to serve Christ and other people. They are not centered on whatever “success” is at the moment.
When I started writing, I thought that dream fulfillment and achievement and the idea of success were exactly what Christ wanted for me and for others. I wrote about that. I encouraged people to dream big and work hard and believe in themselves and pray for accomplishments. I wanted people to become all that Christ had created them to be, and I thought that I was exhibiting a Christian world view.
I had it exactly backward. Personal fulfillment is the mantra of those who say that you are your own god. You don’t need some distant god; god is inside of you. Personal fulfillment is the teaching of those who say the universe wants you to have everything you can dream of, and all you have to do is figure out how to align yourself with the universe so it knows what you want. It is the teaching of Joel Osteen who says that God doesn’t want you to be poor. It is the teaching of Jeremiah Wright who says that God wants you to gang up on the rich and take what you deserve. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
There is no telling what will happen if you deny yourself and take up your cross and start down the road Jesus is walking. It isn’t the same for everyone. Some of Christ’s followers actually do acquire riches. Some of Christ’s followers never have two coins to rub together. Some walk with kings. Some are kings. Some suffer arrest and torture and death. Some feast. Some starve. The hallmark of Christ’s followers, however, is not whether they thrive or endure persecution; it is their humble nature that puts Christ first and esteems every person on earth above self. They do deny self. They do take up a big, ugly, heavy cross and drag it with them wherever they go.
Christians today are a lot like Jesus’ disciples. They think about life from one of the human world views, not from Christ’s world view. They don’t evaluate things the same way Christ does. I know I don’t. I keep thinking I want to be like Jesus, but I am not. Jesus let go of heavenly glory and power and came down to earth to live in human flesh. I can’t let go of my Self for even a minute. If I imagine that I have done it, then Satan whispers in my ear, “That was really a good thing you did. You should be proud,” and I am – proud, that is. So much for self-denial.
Christ’s world view is not about building up self and becoming powerful and important. Christ’s world view is not about getting what I want and winning accolades for my great work. Christ’s world view asks me to let go of what I want and start wanting what Christ wants. Christ asks me to look at everything through his eyes and think about it his way. I haven’t been able to do such a thing so far. How about you?
- How Do You View the World? (work4christ.wordpress.com)