Theology 101

You are Called to be a Servant

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Walk onto almost any Christian college campus and you can hear these two big ideas being taught:

  1. Christians should challenge their spheres of influence with Christian truth claims.
  2. God wants us to bring all areas of thought and life under the captivity of the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We are then told in order to accomplish this, we need to develop a distinctly Christian worldview.  As Bill Crouse suggests, a Christian worldview means that a Christian thinks God’s thoughts after Him in every discipline of study, whether in art, science, history, psychology, or economics, then applies his or her learning on the canvas, in the laboratory, at the chalkboard, in the counseling process, or in the business world.

Even though the necessity of a Christian worldview has been taught for years in many Christian circles, today our surrounding culture has more influence on the church than the church has on our surrounding culture. Worldview teaching is not translating into real observable change. A recent Barna survey found that only 19% of professing born-again Christians acknowledged even a limited Christian worldview (based on Barna’s definition). That figure has remained unchanged for the past 13 years.

Two problems are obvious here. First, only a minority of evangelical Christians hold to a truly Biblical worldview. Second, those who do are not making much of an impact.

In 1999, Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey reintroduced a new generation to the concept of Christian worldview in their book How Now Shall We Live?, a follow-up to Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live? Colson and Pearcey wrote that our lives and work have been separated from their original mission because Christians have lost the concept of a Biblical worldview. The central premise of the book is that a comprehensive Christian worldview is necessary for Christians to successfully engage and influence their culture.

Since Colson and Pearcey’s book was published, Christian worldview studies have exploded. There are hundreds of books, classes, and websites dedicated to the concept of Christian worldview. For example, a Google search of “Christian worldview” returns over 736,000 results. So why isn’t all this education having more effect in the broader culture?

Something vital is missing. A review of most current Christian worldview teaching exposes the absence of a vital New Testament concept: the idea of sacrifice.

The Scripture verse quoted most often in worldview studies is Romans 12:2:  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Yet verses one and two are meant to be read together, because in the original Greek they are all one sentence. The lead-in to verse 2 is Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

The Christian worldview has the power to impact culture only when we put these two verses together and read them as Paul intended. The intellectual renewal of verse two is important, but the power to live a life that makes a difference comes only from a commitment to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

The German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote in a letter, “The religious act is always something partial; faith is something whole, involving the whole of one’s life. Jesus calls us not to a new religion, but to life.”  Those who are called by Christ are no longer their own; they are “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Bonhoeffer also memorably wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The death may not be physical (although that may be required), but it is always the death of the self to the will of God. Those called must be willing to persevere until the end in the labor to which they have been called regardless of the circumstances, as we will see in our next post.

Question: Is living as a servant part of your current worldview? Leave a comment here.

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  • Hallelujah and amen.
    If regeneration is effective, then believers have the peculiar capacity, and consequently, responsibility, to adopt an ethic of sacrificial altruism as directed by the Holy Spirit. The least of these are our responsibility, not the world’s, and we must therefore work hard to be overly productive, and live sacrificially, so that we have something to share with them. Absent the sacrificial ethic and direction of the Holy Spirit, worldview teaching just serves to make us think we are right and others are wrong. That that attitude is hurtful is plain to see.
    Well done.

  • Maryann Whitaker

    There may be a connection between the lack of a true Biblical worldview and the proliferation of purveyors of the prosperity gospel. People are enticed by the claim that God wants them to prosper materially, and those who preach this hold themselves up as examples of the “truth” of their claims. Not only does it tickle the ears with what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), it presents a false choice – either believe that Jesus wants you to be rich and pursue that course or be poor because you rejected Jesus, as if one is related to the other and Jesus is only interested in you if you are striving for riches. Servant leadership requires the belief that Jesus expects us to be willing to serve one another regardless of the cost (John 15:13), and at the moment that a Biblical worldview clashes with material well being, choosing the former may demand parting with the latter. God wastes nothing and makes all things possible (Ecclesiastes 3:1, Luke 1:37), but unless Christians recognize the Biblical truth of God’s omniscience and omnipotence, they limit themselves to that worldview which fragments life and work, and allows them to rationalize their lack of willingness to sacrifice and relegate God to Sunday mornings.

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