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Posts Tagged ‘worldview’

“In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.” (C.S. Lewis)

What does a heart after Jesus look like? Simple. Find nothing to think of more interesting than Jesus’ prestige! Where the world and culture has become opposed to God, the fundamental problem is idolatry. We are prone to trample what is good because we too often “find nothing to think of more interesting than [our] own prestige.” Christians know better. Jesus is worth every heart, every praise, and every allegiance. But we know the god of “this world” is in total opposition to Jesus. How should that truth affect how we live in the world? The Bible teaches, “Do not love the world.” What does that mean? To answer that question, we will need to study the different uses of the Greek word for “world” in the Bible, especially as it is used in texts like James 1:26-27 and 1 John 2:15-17.

The Greek word is kosmos, a word found 104 times in John’s writings alone. The text we will focus on here is 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” These are serious words. Many Christians cite 1 John 2:15-17 to denounce popular culture. But does 1 John 2:15-17 really teach that all popular culture is bad? Or, for that matter, does it really teach that “the world” is all bad? Here it helps to see the different ways in which the biblical writers employed the term kosmos in their writings. We will look at four of them briefly in this post.

First, kosmos can mean “all of God’s creation.” This is the world, the universe, and everything in it. In John 1:10, Jesus is said to be the one who created the world, and the word used there is kosmos. So, we should ask the question — should we love or not love the world Jesus created? Of course, the answer is, yes, we should love God’s creation. God loves his creation, and we should certainly love it also. Thus, this first meaning of kosmos doesn’t seem to be the use John is employing in 1 John 2:15-17.

What other meanings are there? A second use is what Kittle defines as “the theater of human and earthly history.” This use of kosmos simply means the inhabited world, what we call the earth. We see this definition employed in Matthew 4:8, for example, where Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” World in Matthew 4:8 is again that word kosmos. In this verse, it is a neutral term — unless, of course, “their glory” refers not only to the kingdoms. Again, this use of kosmos does not seem to fit John’s use in 1 John 2:15-17.

So let’s consider a third use. This one is pretty important. Kittle defines this third use as “the theater of salvation history.” This is what we call the world of redemptive history. Here we find kosmos used in that famous verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” So, should we despise the “world” that God so loves? The answer is clearly no. So what does John mean by world in 1 John 2:15-17?

Thankfully, there is a fourth use — or I’m not sure what we’d do! John employs kosmos in 1 John 2:15-17 in reference to the world which is in opposition to God. This is the kosmos which, according to Kittle, is lost in sin, wholly at odds with God, lost and depraved. We see this use employed in John 16:11 where Satan is described as the world ruler, the “prince of this world.” This is the world in which Christians are to avoid at all costs. As John Bunyan writes, “What God says is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it.” We see this meaning of kosmos similarly used in verses like 1 Corinthians 1:27, Hebrews 11:38, and in many places in John.

So why bring this up? It is important to know what Scripture says about the world when it comes to your interactions with the things of this world. Should we flee from culture, live in the mountains, and await the Lord’s return? Or, should we wisely live in the world, on mission for Christ, redeeming the culture, creating culture, and avoiding those things that are in hardened opposition to God? The second option seems more fitting for Christians. Why? Because God loves the world, even lost humanity in the fallen world. He created a beautiful world, and one in which humanity can also creatively create! Remember, the Father sent his Son in the world in order to save it, as John 3:16 and 12:47 teach. In other words, texts such as 1 John 2:15-17 and James 1:27 do teach that we should be in opposition toward the “world” whose prince is Satan and stand against his schemes — that world will pass away — but we should conversely love God’s creation, and its people in the same way God does as well.

What does this mean for culture, then? How does an understanding of what the Bible means by “world” in texts like 1 John 2:15-17 help us when it comes to popular culture? Well, let me give you a couple of things to think about. One, “world in opposition to God” is not simply another way to say “culture” or “popular culture.” It’s not that simple. There are things in culture that are in opposition to God. And there are things which please God. To dismiss culture in one broad stroke as to say that it’s all anti-God or polluted is to forget that there are some aspects of culture that are good, sometimes beautiful.

Therefore, we need wisdom — and here are some practical helps. First, when it comes to moral legalism and license (which we discussed in part 2), think about this: don’t focus so much on what you must not do. Rather, focus on what you get to do when you are following Christ! It is a joyous privilege to follow Christ! Remember, a heart after Jesus is key to understanding what the Christian life is all about (see part 3). Consider your freedom to find joy in Jesus a greater freedom than your freedom to enjoy a movie — even if you do both at the same time! As one who enjoys watching movies, listening to music, watching TV, playing video games, and using social media, this is something I must take to task on a daily basis.

Second, God does give us real beauty and good things in the world, even from non-Christians. Still, even if some elements of popular culture are good, they must never become our gods (see part 4). Proverbs 24:13 and 25:16 are helpful here: honey is sweet, but if you eat too much of it you will get sick and vomit.

And third, for all of these things, we need to be asking the question about whether we should/can accept it, whether we must reject it, and whether we can redeem it. Or, as Bruce Ashford says, “we must consider how we, as Christians, can live faithfully, critically, and redemptively in the world in which we find ourselves.”

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What is good?  What is goodness?  How do you know what is good?  Who gets to define what is good?

Dictionary.com (one of my favorite sites btw–I know I am a nerd!) defines good as “morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, or pious.”

But what in our world fits that definition?  We could mention a lot of things–loving others, serving others, giving to the needy, and cultivating friendships are all good things right?  But who gets to decide what is truly good, what is best?  Who decides what is good?

There are two possible answers to this question:

1.  People–we, men and women, get to decide what is good based on what we think is best for ourselves and perhaps society.

2.  God–God, being creator of this universe, decided in eternity past what is good.  To truly understand what is good we must submit to Him.

Let’s play out this scenario.  If we get to decide what is good–then there is no objective standard for goodness.  Many postmoderns would readily admit that they believe that there is no objective standard of good or evil.  Lets play this thinking out just a little–if there is no objective standard for what is good, then my goodness is mine and yours is yours.  So what happens when my goodness rubs up against yours?  One of us is going down right?

What if I believed that everyone should wear blue jeans because shorts are evil–that is foundational to my internal standard of goodness.  I believe it so fervently, that I think everyone should wear blue jeans all the time and people who wear shorts are evil and the world is better off without them.  Seems like a crazy view to have right?  But if I really believe this and am going to live consistently in light of what I believe, I am going to do everything I can to take all you short-wearers down!

Sounds silly right?  Well it’s not too far from what other people think–think about the radical Islamic terrorists that flew those planes into the World Trade Center.  They thought what they were doing was right and good.  To them it was a good thing to fly those planes into those buildings and kill thousands of people. They felt that it was worth giving up their lives and killing others to serve their standard of goodness.

You will object that its just religious radicals that are accomplishing such evil feats based on their worldview.  Well what about what many secular people think is good.  Take abortion for instance, most secular folks believe that abortion is some sense a good thing–saves women and children from poverty and difficulty etc.  If you think that abortion is good on some level, how long until partial birth abortion is considered good, then what is keeping us from believing in the moral goodness of infanticide for those mothers who cannot afford an abortion?  If we give into infanticide, what is keeping us from getting rid of anyone in particular that we deem doesn’t deserve to live because they interfere with our standard of goodness or because we think we now what is good for them and it is not to live?  Sounds crazy right–if you believe that unborn children are children, then these sorts of things are the next logical steps.

If people define what is good, our standard of goodness will be me-centered and selfish.  I will determine what is good primarily on what is good for me.  If the God of the Bible, however defines what is good, then goodness is perhaps more others-centered.

When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus responded by saying, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31).  He also tells us that greater love has no one than this “that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:33).  When called “good teacher,” Jesus makes clear what calling him “good” implies by saying, “no one is good but God alone.”  So when you call Jesus good you are calling Him God!  And only God is good.  The Bible tells us that no one is good (Romans 3:10)–sin has corrupted us in a profound way such that we have become consummed with ourselves and apart from God’s help we will remain that way.

Only through God can we truly know what is good and only through His son can we be restored to a right understanding and appreciation of goodness.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

True goodness, true love is defined by God and He has most profoundly demonstrated it to us through Christ’s death and resurrection on behalf of those who are not good!

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So I decided that this blog isn’t very personal, I don’t tell you very much about me–I think most blogs are too personal–often times just a big list of things that people do every day, but mine has very little personal content, so I thought I should share one of my great loves with you all–music! I am a avid music fan and was thinking that I should share some of my love for music with you. Much of the music I share will be from Christian artists that do not walk the typical path of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Much of the music I share will be secular artists that produce beautiful music that we can listen to with careful discernment. Much of the music I share will be by artists that I do not know whether they are Christians or not. We can learn something from and enjoy these various types of music if we do so with discernment and when necessary, take the time to point out when their worldview proves itself to contradict Scripture.

Because there are those who believe that all secular music is evil, I need to make a couple of comments. First, just because I like a particular song or band does not mean that I agree with everything that particular band stands for nor does it mean that I believe the song is in every way glorifying to God. Everything human beings do is touched by the effects of sin as we are all sinners and live in a fallen world. We are also all made in the image of God and therefore capable of displaying that image in the art we create–that said, there are, at times, people who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who create beautiful art that we can look at (or hear in this instance) and admire and come to understand something about the world we live in or our being created in the image of God. Often times secular art needs to be interpreted with Christian discernment–in other words what does a particular piece of art say about man? What does it say about God? Is the artist saying something about his or her fallen condition? Is the artist whether consciously or not displaying something of having been created in the image of God? Anything good or beautiful in this world is a product of us having been created by a good God (James 1:17)!

Often times Christian music, especially CCM, needs to be listened to with just as much discernment. I have listened to enough CCM in my day to know that not all of it is glorifying to God. Sometimes I think that “Christian” music that makes little of God is worse than secular music that makes no claims about God whatsoever. I’d rather listen to beautiful music that displays something of the image of God in us than “Christian” music that makes our holy God out to be smaller and less holy than He is!

That was a long explanation, I don’t expect everyone to agree, but hopefully those of you who understand where I am coming from will enjoy some of the music I share!


What I have been listening to this week
: Fleet Foxes–I kept hearing that this band is awesome and I liked every single I heard, so I finally gave in and picked up their album. This video is pretty funny, with all the barn animals just sitting there around the band. Plus, do these guys not look like they came straight out of the 70’s? Awesome! I love the lead singer’s vocals and his beard (think I should grow one like that?)–its different but very cool.


For those with more eclectic taste: Department of Eagles–kind of a mix between Radiohead, Broken Social Scene is best way I can describe it. Very cool, very melodic. This is an alternate version of a song from their new album, In Ear Park, called “No One Does It like You.”

Future Release that I can’t wait to get: Welcome Wagon–this band consists of the Rev. Vito Aiuto, a Presbyterian pastor from New York and his wife, Monique. You can listen to a track off their upcoming album for free here. The song is called “Sold! To the Nice Rich Man!” I think its actually a cover of an old Danielson Family song. Listen to the lyrics (if its not obvious, the “nice” rich man is Satan)–very interesting stuff and Rev. Aiuto has a pretty sweet guitar solo! Their new album was produced by Sufjan Stevens and this song just oozes of Sufjan influence in a good way. This is the best song I have heard in a while–the new album is supposed to a mix of hymns they put their own spin on and some songs they wrote–I can’t wait! Seriously, go listen to the song right now!

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Barack Obama’s running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., “departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception.” Kate Phillips, writing for the New York Times, reports that in an interview on “Meet the Press” on NBC, Senator Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception.”

Great, right? Well, I am not so sure. Phillips also mentioned in her article that Biden “added that he would not impose his personal views on others, and had indeed voted against curtailing abortion rights and against criminalizing abortion.”

How can you believe that life begins at conception and vote against criminalizing abortion? If life begins at conception, then taking the life of an unborn child is the same as taking any other life. It is murder. What Biden is doing here is consummate to saying, “I know there are people out there murdering each other, but I don’t think we should criminalize that activity!”

I would rather have a candidate believe that life begins at birth than one who believes that life begins at conception but doesn’t want to criminalize what can be described no other way than as murder! In the latter, you have someone who claims to have convictions but is willing to sacrifice them in order not to offend others, even if it means stamping approval on the murdering of the unborn. I firmly believe that life begins at conception and that is why I believe that abortion is murder. Such a glaring inconsistency in Biden is scary to say the least.

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