Worldview in a Nutshell: Everything You Need to Know
- T.M. Moore BreakPoint
- 2008 27 Feb
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
More and more people are becoming involved in the movement for Christian worldview. This word is cropping up increasingly in print, preaching, around the Internet, and in everyday conversations. The continued growth of worldview ministries such as Summit, American Vision, The Truth Project, and BreakPoint Centurions, indicates that worldview ideas and themes are being received, embraced, and shared in every part of the country. This is truly good news.
But this means that those of you who are beginning to become aware of worldview issues, and who are interested in living the broader, deeper, and more all-engaging life of Christian worldview, will need to be able to express your convictions to those around you. Many of your fellow church members, and probably most of the people in your neighborhood or at your work, won’t have the slightest idea what you mean by “Christian worldview” or why you suddenly seem to be so excited about the concept. You’ll want to be able to explain to them what you mean by Christian worldview and why it matters. So what I’d like to do in this installment of “Second Sight” is give you a single verse and a concise outline of Christian worldview, and then dispatch you to try these out on a few friends.
Solomon’s abrupt “conclusion of the whole matter” in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is meant to encapsulate everything he has been trying to persuade his son, Rehoboam, to understand and embrace for 12 chapters. Rehoboam is about to inherit the throne of his father, and from what Solomon has seen, he’s become persuaded his son is bent on a course of disappointment and destruction. He knows, because he’s been there himself. Having begun well in his reign, following the wisdom of God to become the greatest ruler of his day, Solomon veered off course and strayed into egoism, pragmatism, mere sensuality, and despair before, as seems apparent from Ecclesiastes, returning to the Lord and life “under the heavens” rather than merely “under the sun.”
This book, a kind of last will and testament of the great king, asserts his return to faith and urges a God-centered worldview on his heir-apparent. And Solomon’s conclusion to everything he wanted to say is simply, “Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man.” In that one verse is summed up just about everything we need to know to explain Christian worldview to our friends. Let’s have a look.
“Fear God" - The Creator/Creature Distinction
Christian worldview begins with the understanding that human beings and the whole vast cosmos they inhabit did not come into being merely by chance. We are creatures, the handiwork of God, the divine Creator, who made us according to His pleasure, plan, and purpose, and who alone, therefore, is able to give definition and meaning to everything that is. God is Truth. He both declares truth and enables us truly to understand the nature and purpose of every created thing, not exhaustively, like He does (Ecclesiastes 3:10,11), but enough to understand that everything is a gift of God and is to be used in a steward-like manner to please and honor Him.
Human beings are special creatures of God, having been made in His image so that they might know and consciously serve Him. It is a human being’s greatest joy and richest pleasure to engage in this relationship (Psalms 16:11). This relationship to God is summarized in the word, “fear,” which means both to reverence God and to be very sure we understand what He is capable of, so that we do not transgress His will. Fearing God is also closely associated with loving Him and participating in His plan for His creation (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Full and abundant life for human beings is found in accepting our role as creatures and learning to fear, love, and serve our Creator according to His good purposes and will.
“Keep His Commandments" - Bringing Life out of Death
God has not been silent about how we should conduct ourselves in this life. He has revealed His truth in His Word, and especially in His Law. Jesus and Paul, His chief exponent, said that God gave His Law to men because of sin (Matthew 19:7,8; Galatians 3:19). Something happened in the relationship between God and His image-bearers that found them rebelling against God’s good purposes and plan, turning away from His truth to seek their own, autonomous way in life. The result of this rebellion was the entrance of sin and all its attendant miseries to the human situation. The whole world was affected by the entrance of sin—the fruit of prideful self-seeking—so that ruin, misery, fear, and death became the norm throughout the whole creation. So violent and self-serving did men become that the only law that prevailed among them was the law of power and preference: whoever had the power did whatever he wanted.
God did not condone this way of death; instead, He determined to establish a people unto Himself who would begin the task of reconciling the cosmos back to God. He rescued them from a cruel bondage in a foreign land and gave them His Law as a guide to righteousness and life. By keeping His Law they would know a full and abundant life and be a nation to attract other nations to God and His ways (Deuteronomy 4:1-8), thus becoming a catalyst for renewal for the entire world.
When His people proved unwilling and unable to abide by His Law, God sent His Son to fulfill the Law’s demands on their behalf, and to secure them to Him by a powerful act of grace. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of God’s Law, satisfied the justice His Law demands, and opened a way for all who turn to Jesus to take up that Law as the way of life and love once again (Matthew 22:34-40). This is because Jesus of Nazareth was the Word and Son of God incarnate, as He demonstrated by fulfilling all the ancient prophecies, in His words and works, and by His resurrection from the dead.
Now those who know the redeeming grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ possess the Mystery of God’s Kingdom—the Holy Spirit of God (Mark 4:10,11,22-25)—who dwells in them, prompting them to worship, filling them with gratitude, fitting them for service (Ephesians 5.18-21), and empowering them to live God’s Law and testify of His Son (Ezekiel 36:26,27; Acts 1:8). Those who have been redeemed gladly take up the commandments of God because they know them to outline the way of love for God and love for our neighbors. They see in these commandments—and in all the Word of God—the key to re-establishing much of the original goodness, beauty, and truth of God in the cosmos.
“The Whole Duty of Man" - People with a Mission
Now those who have been redeemed have a duty to perform. They are a people with a mission; that mission is to bear the Good News of Jesus to the whole world, and to call people everywhere to repent of their sins, enter the Kingdom of Christ, take up the Word of God, and join Him in the glorious task of making all things new. Whatever may be our calling in life, we receive our vocation as a gift of God and pursue it with a view to restoring goodness, beauty, and truth to every area of life. So much a part of our lives does this become that Solomon literally says that fearing God and keeping His commandments “is the whole of a man.” That is, everything that is involved in knowing full and abundant, satisfying and rewarding life as a human being is focused in this great worldview calling and challenge. We will never know what it means to “be all that you can be” until we locate ourselves squarely within the framework of truth of the Christian worldview and start to re-organize our lives according to the divine economy.
Christian worldview thus narrates a story that stretches from eternity past to eternity future, moving through creation, fall, redemption, and restoration to a promised consummation of all things, in which “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) and they who fear Him and keep His commandments will inhabit a new heaven and a new earth, where there are no more sorrows and no more tears, and where righteousness dwells (Revelation 21).
In this life, as we move toward the consummation, the redeemed of the Lord work fervently for the restoration of all things, although they may only expect to make progress in this life, and not to attain perfection. For all our works in this life are primarily symbolic and kerygmatic. They represent, express, and embody the renewal unto goodness, beauty, and truth that is the result of Christ’s redemption, and they declare and proclaim the new era of God’s Kingdom, calling all men everywhere to repent and believe the Good News (Acts 17:30,31).
So Tell Your Friends!
A movement to embrace, experience, and extend the Christian worldview is gathering steam, and you are part of it. Jesus came to renew the cosmos and to reconcile all of life back to God. He said to His disciples, and to us through them, “As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). God is sending each of us to live and proclaim the Kingdom of Christ and the Christian worldview it unfolds. You can begin to take up this task today.
Just ask the people around you to express their understanding of Solomon’s enigmatic declaration, “Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of a man.” Remind them—as they will already no doubt know—that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. What wisdom was he declaring for us in this simple statement? Then see if you can’t engage them in a conversation about worldview in general, and the Christian worldview more specifically.
But remember the advice of the Apostle James: be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19), as well as that of the Apostle Paul: let your words be seasoned with grace, and used only to edify others (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29). You’ll find, as you talk about the Christian worldview, that your understanding and excitement about the Lord and His purposes will grow, and you will be increasingly interested in understanding all the counsel of God for your own life. And the more you take up that challenge, the more vitally you will become immersed in the Christian worldview movement that is welling up around us and that promises to bring a refreshing tide of renewal to the whole world.
What would keep you from the practical exercise suggested in the last paragraph? Is there someone you could share this essay with who might join you in this exercise (strength in numbers)?
T. M. Moore is dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of 20 books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are Culture Matters (Brazos) and The Hidden Life, a handbook of poems, songs, and spiritual exercises (Waxed Tablet). Sign up at his website to receive his daily email devotional Crosfigell, reflections on Scripture and the Celtic Christian tradition. T. M. and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in Concord, Tenn.
This article originally appeared on BreakPoint. Used with permission.