Your View Of The World
The worldview you hold determines the way you believe and view Scripture and everything else for that matter. We all operate within a worldview often without being conscious that we are doing so. We assume that the way we view life is the way everyone views life. We assume that what we see is reality. However, what we see is determined by our worldview. Our worldview is our control box.
All worldviews have blind spots and the Western worldview is no exception. As an illustration, the Western worldview keeps most Westerners from dealing with or understanding problems related to spirits, ancestors, or anything supernatural. This is the reason that some Evangelicals refuse to believe that God can and does still heal in today’s world. Strangely, this view is often limited to “physical healing,” while “healing of one’s spirit” or to “be saved” or “born again” is perfectly all right.
The reader of Scripture is often called to shift his or her worldview to understand Scripture. Your worldview changes as it is challenged. This shifting occurs as you begin the process of realizing why you think about and see things the way you do.
What Is A Worldview?
What is a worldview? Do I have a worldview? Is it a valid one? Am I trapped into keeping what I have or can I change? James Sire, in The Universe Next Door, says, “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true or partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” (James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1976. 20). https://amzn.to/3fSMydr
The point is that our starting place for viewing things is different. Even though we may possess the same reasoning process, we end up with different conclusions. Worldview is imposed on us in our youth through our culture. We don’t learn it as much as absorb it.
To illustrate this, ask yourselves some questions: On what do I focus? How do I see or conceive of reality? Is it true that I do not see everything that I look at? Do I see selectively? Here is an example. Every year in America people are blown to bits by what is called an empty gas can. Why? We have been taught that a can is empty because there is no fluid in it. Empty is our focus. Another equally powerful focus is to see the can as full of gas fumes. If we light a match around a can we perceive as empty, the result might well be a big boom! We accept that which confirms what we have been taught and usually reject what contradicts what we have been taught.
Acts 14.8-18 demonstrates this taught focus. Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man in Lystra. A commotion in the city arose because the man was healed. The people of Lystra had a basic assumption, a starting point, which led them to a conclusion that for them was real. Their assumption: only the gods could affect such a healing. Therefore, when they saw what had happened, they concluded that Paul and Barnabas were gods for which they had names. They began to worship and offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas as gods. On the other hand, Paul and Barnabas’ basic assumption was that they were only carrying out what they were commissioned by Christ to do, which was to heal the sick and bring the Rule of God into the world. Each viewed the same event, but their starting points or focus led them to different conclusions.
Learning that others think differently than we do and that it is not a matter of right or wrong, only different, can be painful. It conjures up many questions about how we read and understand Scripture. This process is often called a paradigm shift. Although painful, a paradigm shift may have to happen in order for one to operate with a mindset that allows “everyone to play” and healing to be more than just “physical.” A paradigm is defined by Webster as an example or pattern. A shift indicates moving from one model or pattern to another.
Illustration: Young Lady – Old Lady
The shifting process can be demonstrated with the picture of the young lady–old lady. As you look at the picture, the lines of the drawing do not shift. However, as an observer, your perception can shift and you can see either the young lady or the old lady. As you look at the picture, the visual patterns seem to shift. This, on a small scale, is similar to a paradigm shift or worldview change. As you go through this fairly simple procedure, which is necessary to see these realities differently, try to imagine the complexity of a paradigm shift that leads to a radically different understanding of reality. Even though it is complex, it can be accomplished.
There is a story that illustrates how worldview works: Billy was a sixth-grader. His teacher, reviewing the previous day’s math lesson, called on him to define infinity.
Billy squirmed in his seat and said nothing.
“Come on, Billy, what’s infinity?” his teacher insisted.
Billy just looked at the floor.
Exasperated, his teacher commanded him again to answer, whereupon he mumbled, “Well, infinity is kinda like a box of Cream of Wheat.”
“Billy, don’t be silly,” the teacher snapped and called on Johnny who was eager to share his learning.
“Infinity is immeasurable, unbounded space, time, or quantity,” Johnny said. The teacher was pleased since this was the only appropriate answer the teacher could imagine.
Here’s the rub: Billy had verbalized a complex right-brain image and made a non-literal statement. Literally, infinity is nothing like a box of Cream of Wheat, and the teacher, looking for a literal left-brain definition, understandably ignored his answer. But Billy knew something about infinity. Later, to a more sympathetic ear, Billy was able to explain his image: “You see, on a box of Cream of Wheat there’s a picture of a man holding a box of Cream of Wheat, which shows a picture of a man holding a box of Cream of Wheat—and it goes on and on like that forever and ever, even if you can’t see it anymore. Isn’t that what infinity is?”
Billy had a rich, right-brain understanding of infinity. The left brain definition fed back by his literal classmate meant so little to Billy that he could not reproduce it even though he had written it down the day before. This is an example of hemispheric dominance and two separate modes of processing the same information (Gabriele Lusser Rico. Writing the Natural Way, Gabriele Lusser Rico, 62-64). https://amzn.to/2T8DreL
What Does All This Mean?
We must begin the process of “renewing our minds” and move away from a quite secular, Western, rational Worldview that insists that true healing is the zone in which the medical world plays. The Western worldview simply rules out the possibility of God intervening in his world to bring about healing. Certainly, we do not want to disdain the medical world, but we must think about including the spiritual world as a part of our worldview. As we make this journey, we become more expectant of God invading this present evil age with his presence to heal!
Community Discussion Questions
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- How do you “see” the world around you? From a “secular” or “spiritual” worldview?
- Where do you need a paradigm shift in your worldview?
- How does your “mind” need to renew?
- Who do you know that has a different worldview than you about healing? How do you treat that person?
- Do you believe that God can intervene any time into his world to bring healing? Why?