How Worldviews Shift: Part 1

There is a lot of talk these days about worldview. While the term has come into common use, two things are generally missing. First, it is used but generally as a soundbite, and rarely if ever defined in social media and newscasts. Second, should we engage further in understanding worldview in general, and ours in particular, do we know how to change it if we so desire? That is a significant missing ingredient. I wrote a book on the subject of worldview (Worldview: The Adventure of Seeing Through Scripture) where I did both, I defined it and I discussed how we could change ours, should we so desire. In this series I will delve into that change process.

            We begin with a definition followed by a scriptural example of a worldview issue. There are a number of definitions of worldview, some simple, and others very complicated. I prefer the simple and direct so in my book I defined Worldview as, “The lens through which we view and interpret reality.” The definition is simple and clear and can be applied to a variety of faiths or belief systems. It simply acknowledges what we all implicitly do. We hold and use a mental model that both influences what we see, and how we interpret what we see.

            Having said that, we now turn to the practical in understanding the impact of the worldviews we hold. Here is an example from scripture of how our worldview influences our behaviour. Just prior to His ascension Jesus provided some specific instructions.

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

This directive from Jesus aligned with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) where they were directed to take the gospel to every nation/nationality. Remember the same group heard both directives from Jesus.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus had promised the enduement of power from the Spirit, which happened on the day of Pentecost. He told them that following this empowerment they were then to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. However, when we read the first few chapters of Acts, we see how their worldview affected their hearing. In essence Jesus told them to begin at Jerusalem and take the gospel from there to everyone everywhere. However, the lens through which they interpreted and viewed reality, their worldview, was that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah sand that the gospel was for the Jews, with a small exception for the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-8), who were half Jewish. So they only shared it with the Jewish community.

            Even following the breakthrough in Samaria, contrary to Jesus’ direction, the gospel wasn’t taken to the Gentiles at that point in time. It took a significant worldview shift on the part of Peter for the gospel to go to the Gentiles. It is in Acts that we discover what brought about this worldview shift. In Acts 10:1-48 the Lord first spoke to Cornelius through an angel, then to Peter in a vision. When Peter began to speak at Cornelius’ house part of what he shared was the following.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all –37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: Acts 10:34–37 (NKJV)

In verse 37 Peter points out that Cornelius already knew the gospel. Yet because Cornelius also had a worldview issue, he knew the gospel, but based on the practice of the followers he didn’t know it was available to he and other Gentiles! This was contrary to what Jesus directed.

            In spite of clear instructions, overcoming worldview blindness required an angelic visitation and a God given vision before the worldview of Peter and others was shifted. It is important to note here that in his incorrect worldview Peter believed he was carrying out what Jesus had instructed. Thus, in the next part of this series we will dig a little deeper into what created the shift for Peter and how we can create worldview shifts in our own lives.

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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