Worldview Vs. Reality
I don’t like 3D movies. I appreciate the effort and sometimes enjoy the experience, but as for me and my house, just give us the regular movie as God intended it.
First of all, I don’t like having to pay for glasses I don’t get to keep. Second, the glasses never fit my head correctly. I’m continually having to adjust them. Really, the only satisfying part of going to a 3D movie is after the Nissan commercials and movie previews when that empowering line appears: Please Put On Your 3D Glasses Now.
At that point, I’ll admit, the immersion into the third dimension is exciting. However, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Once everyone has finally donned their 3D headwear and collectively been transported to a new visual realm, something fascinating takes place. Within the first two minutes of the movie, what does every person in the theater do? Every person lifts their glasses to see what the 3D movie looks like on the screen without them.
In a way, this experience of screen and lenses is a microcosm of what each of us experiences in life. A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Why is it important? Because our view of God affects how we live. If we believe God is good but not all-knowing, we may not take sin or holiness seriously. We may think of God as a kindly grandpa in the sky who needs our help and doesn’t notice our occasional dalliances with sin.
On the other hand, if we think God is all-knowing but not good, we will take every step in fear. Each time we sin or make a decision, we will fear the all-seeing eye of God that we believe sits ready to smite us with a lightning bolt at every misstep. Our view of God matters.
C.S. Lewis, in response to this idea, countered that “How we think of (God) is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us.” Lewis observes that it makes no difference what we think of God because, regardless of what we think of Him, we don’t change a single attribute of His. We may believe God is a purple flying spaghetti monster, but in no way does that make God purple or a flying spaghetti monster. God is who He is despite our view of Him.
So which is right? The answer is both. What Tozer and Lewis are describing are two sides of the same experiential coin. Tozer is describing something called Worldview. Our worldview is the lens through which we take in the world and encounter its experiences. It is the filter through which we understand the world.
What Lewis is describing is Reality. There is an objective world, an objective God and objective people we encounter in life that exist entirely outside of our experience or understanding of them. Reality is the way things actually are.
When one’s worldview and reality are in line, there is harmony. One can see and understand the world in the way it is meant to be seen and understood. Round is round, square is square, good is good, and bad is bad. Just as one views objective images displayed on a screen in a theater (reality) that is made to be seen through custom lenses (worldview) that complement and adjust for the objective images, when one’s worldview and reality are in alignment, things work. Life makes sense.
However, if one’s worldview is different from what exists in reality, confusion sets in. Things aren’t right. It is like trying to watch a 3D movie with 2D glasses.
The truth is, every one of us has a worldview. We have developed our worldview mainly through personal experience as well as what has been modeled, explained or recommended to us by those we admire or those we do not admire. While our society clings to its worldviews, the mantra of our postmodern age is that reality does not exist. There are no meta-narratives or truths one must align one’s worldview with. There is no movie on the wall. Only the lenses matter.
The Bible, however, presents a very different picture. The Bible tells us there is a God who is all-powerful and sovereign. This God is good and full of mercy but also holy and wrathful in judgment toward sin. The Bible presents us with a God and Gospel not of our own making, but as they both exist in reality.
We may not like this God. We may disagree with what He has created, purposed, designed and called good. Like the serpent in Genesis 3, we may ask, “Did God really say?” and be tempted to respond by adjusting God’s reality to our worldview with the words, “Surely you won’t…” But it doesn’t change what is true.
Our modern era is a clash of worldviews. Social media has enabled each person with a voice to proclaim their view of objective reality, and often it is done with the forceful claim that our view is itself reality. But God has not given us the capacity to define reality. He has, however, given us the tools with which to view reality correctly. When we come under the Word and its authority, we understand God for who He is and our sinful, broken world for what it is. God even gives believers the Holy Spirit to correct, adjust and clean our lenses daily, so they are more in alignment with reality.
When we come to God and the Bible, we must come with an open-handed worldview. We must submit ourselves, our opinions and our desires to what God says is right, true and good. We have to wear God’s lenses to understand His story. Wherein those things seem out of alignment, we must seek to change our worldview, not the Scriptures. We must clean our lenses, not try to repaint the screen.
When we believe the world doesn’t make sense, or become confused by the myriad of voices in the air, let us remember that God has not left us alone in the dark. God gives us the right worldview in the Scriptures through which to see reality.
When God defines our view of His reality, we worship Him. Let us praise God for the illumination of His Gospel lenses through the Scripture and commit ourselves to not seeking to take peeks through our natural eyes or embrace distortions of the reality before us. As the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians,
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength” (Eph. 1:17-19).