Years ago I read an article in the UK Times entitled, As an Atheist, I truly believe Africa Needs God. The article was written by a self-proclaimed atheist and journalist, Matthew Parris. In the article he says, “In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.” Parris’ views about our faith’s transforming nature partly emanates from his observations of the exemplary character of Christian African professionals. Therefore transformed character is evidence for the effective power of faith in Christ. Or, to put it another way, when Jesus shapes our worldview it will sharpen our witness to a culture that doesn’t know him.
Jesus introduces us to a new way of life in the Kingdom of God in the Gospels. Our recognition that Christ is Lord leads to delightful submission to his authority and teaching. Thus Christ and his saving work is central to transforming our minds, worldviews and lives. Below is how he does it.
When Jesus shapes our worldview it will sharpen our witness to a culture that doesn’t know him
The Person of Christ
All of the Gospels depict a unique relationship between the Father and the Son. Christ as the Son is submissive and subordinate to the Father (John 6:38). We can imitate Jesus’ submission to the Father because it resulted in something wonderful: our salvation. Jesus teaches us to follow his example of submission and service to live a fulfilled life (John 13:16-17). This example, coupled with teaching about submission, challenges our prevailing worldview of grasping for power in various spheres of life. Instead the self-sacrificing behaviour of Jesus shapes our worldview.
The self-sacrificing behaviour of Jesus shapes our worldview and challenges our prevailing worldview of grasping for power
Jesus’ relationship with the Father encourages us to meekly submit to his example of servanthood (Matthew 20:25-26). Though he is our Lord, he exemplifies a servant nature for us by washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:13-14). This practical parable was countercultural among his contemporaries. Yet he exhorts us to imitate this exemplary attitude of humble service (John 13:15).
Our Identity in Christ
We receive a new identity with God when we believe in Jesus for salvation from sin. In other words, we are set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). We become God’s children upon our conversion. This new identity must affect our worldview and lives. Our new identity in Christ affects how we view all issues and relationships. Our view of sin and evil is affected by our new spiritual reality of being forgiven all our sin by God’s grace. Such a spiritual encounter with Jesus is similar to Zacchaeus’. Meeting Jesus radically reshaped his view of sin and led to his repentance (Luke 19:8).
As the Son of God, he proves he is powerful over Satan during his temptation (Matthew 4:10-11). He also proves that he is powerful over oppressive demons when he heals those affected by demonic powers. Anyone affected by the fear of oppressive spiritual forces is liberated by Christ’s victory over them now and in future.
The Work of Christ
Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross communicates a deep message of love for us. Christ communicates the value of putting others’ interests above our own through his suffering and death on the cross. This value is ever so necessary today when self-centredness is pervasively promoted through both social and mass media. Furthermore, at the cross, Jesus prays for his enemies, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This prayer expresses Christ’s attitude of dealing with our enemies graciously rather than vindictively.
This new attitude gives us peace with people we would otherwise hate—sometimes with good reason
Most cultures are marked by personal entitlement for justice rather than forgiveness. But Christ transforms our minds to desire the ways of the kingdom, the way of forgiveness. Again, Jesus shapes our worldview. This new attitude gives us peace with people we would otherwise hate—sometimes with good reason.
The Teachings of Christ
One of the most obvious ways that Jesus shapes our worldview is through his teachings. Our expectations of life are altered when we believe in Christ. Some Christians teach that we should expect a comfortable life on earth when we become Christians. However, Jesus teaches us to expect persecution and suffering for his sake while still on earth (Matthew 5:10-12).
Jesus also shapes our worldview through his teachings concerning relationships (Matthew 5:43-48), prayer and fasting (Matthew 6:5-18), as well as money and wealth (Matthew 6:19-24). Not to mention his teaching concerning generosity (Matthew 6:1-4). We notice that Jesus’ teachings are not simply about morality, he gives us the right attitude towards following him. He speaks to our desires, addressing the heart and not merely the mind.
Jesus and the Enduring Ministry of the Holy Spirit
The amazing knowledge of God’s enduring presence in believers is another exciting piece of knowledge that transforms our worldview. Jesus promised to be with us to the very end of the age and we can experience him (Matthew 28:20). We experience Jesus’ ministry in us and with us through his Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 18). Because of the presence of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit, we can respond to God in obedience (John 15:5). Furthermore, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will continue to expose sin in our worldview (John 16:8). This should lead us to a culture of critiquing our worldview to live in joyful obedience to Christ.
Submitting to Jesus Shapes our Worldview
Our worldviews are tainted by sin. Yet our worldviews have elements of a biblical worldview because God’s law is written in everyone’s heart (Romans 2:14). But Jesus gradually transforms our worldview as we continually submit to him. Therefore, we must rely upon our core identity of faith in Jesus to have a distinctly Christian worldview. This Christian worldview is exclusively found in Christ’s authoritative teachings and his impeccable life and ministry.
Transformed character is evidence for the effective power of faith in Christ