Does My Worldview Matter?

When my family and I lived in the Texas Panhandle for a few years in the late 1990s, we became accustomed to driving long, lonely stretches of highway without seeing another car for miles. For Pete’s sake, the closest Walmart was an hour away! The windshield of our Dodge Caravan would easily accumulate a few zillion suicidal bugs on trips down those desolate dusty roads. They were assisted to their fate by the perpetually blowing winds common to that part of Texas. A thick gritty paste would eventually develop on the glass, requiring us to utilize a little elbow grease and one of those nifty squeegee things at the car wash to restore a clear field of vision. If we didn’t take this necessary step, our ability to safely operate the vehicle was severely impacted, and the mess on the windshield would prevent us from taking in the unparalleled beauty all around us. The flat treeless plains in the Texas Panhandle provided a panoramic backdrop for some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets on the planet. It would have been a shame to miss out on the vibrant red, blazing orange, and deep purple hues because of some bugs and dust.

Sometimes in life, our view of the world around us can become obscured, as if we are gazing out through a dirty windshield. We are tempted to peer through the lens of preferences, misconceptions, or everyday disappointments in order to shape our view of life. Other times life altering circumstances come hurtling at us like rocks kicked up off the road toward the glass, completely shattering the way we see the world. An unclear or inconsistent worldview can be incredibly disorienting, causing us to live life off balance and uncertain of whether or not our feet are planted on a sturdy foundation. For this reason, it’s worth taking some time to carefully examine the source of our worldview so that when challenges come, we can meet them with confidence.

In “The Universe Next Door” James Sire defines worldview as “…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, 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.” One’s worldview will answer questions like: How did I get here? What’s the meaning of life? What is right and wrong? Where am I headed? We all have a worldview whether we realize it or not. We live our day to day lives as if we believe certain things to be true, even when we may not be able to clearly articulate the specifics.

As Christians, our worldview should be rooted in the Bible as we allow it to encompass and guide all aspects of our lives. It provides a fully faceted answer to all the big questions in life by showing us who God is, what He’s like, and what He does. Scripture tells us that God reveals Himself to us both through nature and His Word. Paul says in Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” The natural world shows us things about God’s character that should guide the way we live. The Psalmist reveals in Psalm 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.” We observe order, intentionality, beauty, and purpose in creation, and make the assumption that Someone bigger than us is responsible for it all. This Someone brings order to our lives, creates beautiful things for us to enjoy, and intentionally guides us to a greater purpose outside of ourselves.

God also reveals Himself to us through His inspired Word. It’s no coincidence that the longest chapter in the Bible focuses on delighting in God’s Word. Psalm 119, consisting of 176 verses, highlights attributes of God like His righteousness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, faithfulness, immutability, and eternality. The Psalmist reveals how God opens our eyes (v. 18) and turns our hearts (v. 36). God is defined as good (v. 68) and as the Creator who gives understanding (v. 73). Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Scripture provides the illumination we need as we journey along the paths of our daily lives. God’s Word is both a light that shines directly on each step we take, and a lamp that illuminates the farthest horizon to bring our lives sharply into focus.

When I received specialized training as an occupational therapist in low vision rehabilitation, one of the first and simplest concepts I learned was the effective use of lighting. I was taught that if the light comes from the wrong direction, it can actually be more harmful than beneficial. A light coming from behind instead of in front, beside, or directly above can be blocked or distorted, making completion of a task more difficult. The same is true of the perfect light of God’s Word. When imperfect people (that’s all of us) don’t give Scripture its proper position in our lives, we miss the benefits of understanding God’s character, and risk coming away with a distorted view of how He works His purposes in and through us. The work of the Holy Spirit changes us as the Bible points us to God and illuminates aspects of His character. The point is not for us to see ourselves within the pages of Scripture, but to see Him, and allow Him to transform us into who He desires for us to be. We discover in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

A truly Biblical worldview leads us to the conclusion that our value does not originate within ourselves, but comes from the One who made us. We are loved not because we are good, but because He is good. Our worth does not come from some external earthly standard, but from the One who is Himself the standard of all that is true and just. We don’t find our significance by looking within, but from looking above. A painting or sculpture is not valuable because of the materials that comprise it, but because of the artist who designed it. A story is not compelling because of the paper and ink on which it is written, but because it came from the mind of the one who crafted it. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” From the perspective of a Biblical worldview, the way we see ourselves in the world should be all about Him and the purposes for which He created us.

Jesus told His followers in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Our culture applauds carving a broad and winding path through life, rather than traveling along the well-defined narrow way of God’s Word. Truth is defined as whatever feels best or is most convenient at the moment, rather than the truth embodied in Christ and revealed in Scripture. Often living “the good life” is celebrated as preferable to submitting to the One who is good. There is no doubt that it is becoming more and more difficult to live consistently within a Biblical worldview in the midst of a culture that answers the big questions of life much differently than we do. The views of Christ-followers are viewed as peculiar and intolerant. A culture that values rugged individualism and instant gratification simply can’t wrap its collective brain around a worldview that claims its followers are hidden within Someone bigger than themselves as they await a future glory (Colossians 3:3-4). But Jesus never promised it would be easy. Instead, He assured His disciples that He would be with them as they faced persecution, rejection, and hardship. Holding onto a worldview centered on God and His Word does matter and is of eternal significance as we strive to illuminate darkness and provide clarity in an increasingly confused world.

Resolve to See Things God’s Way in 2020

Walking By Faith

In ten years of experience as an occupational therapist working with geriatric and stroke patients, I have observed that disruption of vision is one of the most devastating deficits a person can experience. That’s no wonder, since neuroscientists estimate that more than eighty percent of the information we receive about our environment is through the sense of vision. Our brains take in and interpret the information we receive through our eyes.  In the same way that we need physical vision to make sense of our world, we also need spiritual vision to effectively navigate through life. This longing for clear spiritual vision is evident as we cry out to God in worship with songs like “Be Thou My Vision” and  “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”

I have reflected extensively on the importance of vision because of my family history of eye disease. I have seen first hand how a deficiency in physical eyesight can affect a person. Both my grandmother and my mother were diagnosed with macular degeneration, and because this disease has a strong genetic component, I am a good candidate for developing this condition as well. I do all I can to reduce the odds by taking vitamins specifically designed to slow the process, protecting my eyes in bright sunlight, and paying attention to diet, but am I equally vigilant when it comes to maintaining good spiritual vision? Ensuring our ability to make sense of spiritual matters has far greater consequences than protecting our physical eyes. So how can we maintain 20/20 spiritual vision?

Three primary components of vision are necessary for making sense of our physical world: visual acuity, oculomotor control, and visual field. If any one of these is absent or deficient, we have a difficult time safely interacting with the environment. Acuity enables us to see clearly, oculomotor control directs the eyes toward a particular target, and visual field enables us to see the whole picture. In the same way that these components are necessary to make sense of the physical world, they are also applicable to the spiritual realm. Just as a skilled optician can create the perfect pair of glasses to bring our physical vision to 20/20, God has given us tools to utilize as we journey through life.

Seeing Clearly

We must maintain visual acuity or clarity in our worldview. We can only see clearly from a spiritual standpoint by viewing the world through the lens of God’s Word. Let us not underestimate the importance of being in the Word daily in order to keep from stumbling and falling due to blurry vision. As an occupational therapist, one compensatory strategy I have at my disposal to improve acuity is increasing light. The Bible tells us in Psalm 119:105 that, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (NKJV) Let us as followers of Christ use the application of Biblical wisdom as our strategy to prevent us from stumbling along life’s path. It is only when God’s Word illuminates our way that we can see the obstacles ahead poised to trip us up or cause us to stray off the straight and narrow road. Darkness cannot prevail against the light of God’s Word.

Fixing Our Gaze

When the muscles in our eyes demonstrate good oculomotor control, our gaze is maintained and fixed in the right direction. Weak eye muscles can be retrained and strengthened through tracking exercises in which an individual practices following a target with his eyes. Control of our spiritual muscles is necessary to keep our lives focused appropriately, and they also require training. We must make the conscious decision to only engage in those things which are conducive to our spiritual growth, and divert our gaze away from anything that is not beneficial. Hebrews 12: 2 says we are to run the race while “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…” (CSB). It is only with Jesus as our target that we are able to safely navigate this world. While it is easy to turn aside and follow worldly passions, we will only keep moving in the right direction as we train ourselves to daily keep our eyes fixed on Him through employing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study.

Staying Alert

We maintain an awareness of all that is going on around us through a functional visual field. One strategy used in cases of visual field deficits is called visual scanning. Through this technique, individuals are trained to be acutely aware of areas of decreased vision, and employ a specific pattern for scanning toward those sections of the visual field. We need to be aware of our deficits spiritually as well and utilize strategies to compensate for our weaknesses. If our spiritual field of vision is deficient, we cannot perceive attacks coming from the enemy. Blind spots in our vision give the enemy an opportunity to assault and isolate us. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV) We must have a strategy to stay vigilant and alert regarding anything or anyone that would enter our world seeking to take away the blessings of life in Christ. Fellowship with other believers can be very helpful in this regard. Others are often able to see things in us that we cannot see in ourselves. Our brothers and sisters in Christ help fill in our blind spots and alert us to areas in which we need to grow.

Toward the end of her ninety-four years on earth, my grandmother lost much of her eyesight as a result of macular degeneration. It was difficult seeing her struggle to do everyday tasks we all take for granted. This disease also robbed her of the ability to do things that she once enjoyed such as reading her Bible, doing crossword puzzles, or playing along with Wheel of Fortune. It was comforting though to see that a physical disease could not steal the joy of the Lord from her life. She continued to walk with Him, allowing the Lord to take her hand and guide her when she couldn’t see the way. That’s the way spiritual eyesight works. We allow God to be our eyes, guiding us to places He’s already been, along a path He created for us, in order to follow His will for our lives. One of my grandmother’s favorite verses was Proverbs 3:5-6 : “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV) And that is how Nannie was able to function when she all but lost her sight. She put her hand in God’s hand and submitted to his guidance when she couldn’t see the path ahead of her. We would do well to do the same.