How Do You View the World?

I recently attended PLI Leadership’s Discipleship to Missional Community (D2MC) training and was asked this question: “How do you view the world?” That’s not something any of us probably think about apart from being specifically asked! The presenter went on to describe two common perspectives that Christians typically adopt and proposed a third one that might better reflect the life of a disciple of Jesus.
We are tempted to understand the world simply as the forces that oppose God. God is on one side, the world is on the other, and the Christian is in the middle. With this worldview, you find yourself in the tension of either turning towards God or towards the world. This is the whole devil on one shoulder and angel on the other sort of picture! This perspective leads Christians to see the world as dangerous and develop a separatist culture to better reflect the life that we believe God is calling us to live. Unfortunately, this approach makes it difficult to share Jesus with the world.
Another common way that Christians understand our relationship between God and the world is as God’s ambassadors and missionaries to the world. The world is opposed to God, but God is on a mission to redeem the world and God needs us to reach the world. Those who follow Jesus are sent out to share God’s love with the world. This worldview can lead to Christians to see our role as central and essential to God’s redemptive plan for the world. The problem with this is that we can begin to see ourselves as too important. This is reflected in statements shared by Bill Hybels and others that the church is God’s “Plan A” for the salvation of the world and there is no “Plan B”.
A third alternative worldview was also proposed: What if we viewed the world through God as reflected in the life of Jesus? In Matthew 9:36 as Jesus surveyed the crowds in all their lostness he was full of compassion, not condemnation or judgement. While the world is opposed to God and God is on a mission to redeem the world, his plan for doing so centers in Jesus, not you or me. But God does have a plan and a purpose for us, too: We are called to join Jesus in his love and compassion for the world, adopting his posture and perspective as we share the Good News of Jesus.
What would change in your life if you adopted this third worldview with God at the center of it? What ways might you better reflect Jesus’ care and compassion for the world? How can your church better share Jesus with the world that he died for?