Monday, July 11, 2005

Christian Worldview

"Do not be conformed to this world," Paul says, "but be transformed by the renewing of your minds." Not being conformed to this world is one of the biggest challenges facing Christians today. Maybe it always has been. What could be easier than thinking the way the world thinks and living the way the world lives? But Paul calls on us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The Greek word for repent, metanoia literally means "to change one's mind." This is the goal of all Christian preaching and teaching, to change the way people think about life. Not just to get us to add a few new truths to the long list of things we already believe to be true, but to challenge us to see the world in a new way. The call is to see all things through the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These three events have not only changed our relationship with God but have infused all of reality, every last detail, with new meaning and significance.

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ tells us that God loves the world and that we must also therefore love the world. We cannot love God and not love the world. Because God entered into human history, into the real world, our love for the world must also be real and not just theoretical. We must not love some abstract possibility of what the world could become but the actual world in which we find ourselves. And above all we must love one another, and ourselves, in this way – as we are.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ tells us that even though God loves the world, there is judgment. The Incarnation calls us to love the world, but the Crucifixion tells us that we cannot simply and uncritically accept the world as it is. We aren't called to imitate God in this judgment, but we must recognize that there is something very seriously wrong in the world.

At the same time, we must recognize that it is God who is crucified in Jesus Christ. God enters into the suffering and even the guilt of the world and in Jesus Christ takes it upon himself. And Jesus sends us into the world also to share in bearing the burdens of others.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ tells us that God's love triumphs over all suffering and evil. Death does not have the final word. Jesus Christ, having taken the sin of the world upon himself in crucifixion, is raised to new life. And in this lies all Christian hope. God's love for the world has triumphed and God's promise of a new heaven and a new earth has begun to be fulfilled. It began in the resurrection of Jesus, and it continues as God makes each of us a new creation.

"You are the light of the world," Jesus says. We are the light because he is the light and he is in us. When we are not conformed to this world but transformed to new life in Christ, we shine and show the world a vision, not just of how things could be but of how things are. The light we have to show the world is the understanding of God's love in Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

One of the problems, to me, is that some of the folks the fondest of saying, "Be not conformed to the world" are absolutely conformed to the world -- using Dan Erlander's phraseology, persons who say YES to the very things Jesus said NO to: religion that validates itself by worldly standards of effectiveness or power; religion that promises certitude/life without questions or risk; religion that is more concerned with the "saved" than the "saved for what"; religion that tries to work for/bargain for/earn "savedness"; religion that fixates its members' energies on "going to heaven when I die"; religion that uses the world's power techniques to try and "make history come out right" or to force others to fit their particular definition of "righteousness."

Following Jesus actually means throwing over all these things. (A point made in Bonhoeffer's Ethics too, no?)