Got Potential?

You bet you do. You were created for a unique and eternal purpose.

Got Potential? header image 2

Thriving in Tough Times 1

March 17th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Part 1: Adopting a Christian Worldview

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

At one point I was a child of this world – a citizen of its system.

To understand what I mean by ‘world’ and ‘system’ all you’ve got to do is watch a little TV or read the ads in a few magazines. The secular media is the voice of this world’s system. It tells you what’s good, what’s bad, where to eat, what to wear, and how bright your teeth should be. It even tells you what you should be worried about and the plan to make it all better. The media reflects the world – the one you and I were born into.

Not every aspect of the world’s system is sinful in itself, as we’ve come to define ‘sinful’. But the world’s system is inherently sinful in that it stands against God’s. The world system is a kingdom in and of itself – a usurper in God’s universe. Earth is a region in rebellion; a rebellion that will one day be put down when God’s kingdom restored on this planet.

So that’s the world we live in. Looking at it this way we can begin to see why the idea of a ‘Christian worldview’ might be important.

Because we carry the DNA of our great-grandparents Adam and Eve we were born into a world that is in rebellion to its Maker, a world that’s dying.

But even before the world fell into rebellion, its Maker had a plan for restoring it to the kingdom. Just like we got born into this world’s system, we have to undergo a new birth to be reconciled to God’s kingdom. We have to be born again. That second birth isn’t a physical birth; it’s a spiritual one. Our bodies stay the way they are but our spirits are reborn. Our newborn spirits live in the reality of a new world even though our bodies are stuck in the old one.

Experiencing this second, spiritual birth involves dying to the spiritual side of our old first birth; that sin and rebellion DNA we inherited from Adam and Eve (Galatians 6:14). That means that even though our bodies look like the same old baggage, our spirits died to the world’s system and were reborn into God’s kingdom.

As citizens of God’s kingdom, we live in this world, but we’re not of this world. Even though our bodies still reside here, our spirits are no longer a part of this world’s system. We live by the laws of our citizenship in God’s kingdom while we’re living in the world’s system.

What this means is that when the world goes through tough times, we as physical residents are affected, we go through tough times too; but as spiritual aliens are not ultimately affected. Spiritual citizens of this world are sold out to its system. They are ultimately affected by what in happens in the world.

At least once in our lives we’ve heard or read a story about a man who had everything – money, prestige and power – committing suicide. It doesn’t make sense to us. Why would someone with, apparently so much going for him take his own life. And then later we find out that this man’s life had been a house of cards and it had all fallen down. He had lost everything in this world he considered valuable – his money, prestige and power – and because he was truly a citizen of this world, sold out to its system and he had nothing left, he took his own life. He was ultimately affected by the system of this world.

A few months ago I wrote about a young man who, according to the world’s system, had everything – a trust fund, fully furnished mortgage-free home, Mercedes, Rolex, exciting career and social possibilities – and he gave it all away to become a kitchen worker in a Christian guest house in Israel. Because he had died to this world’s system and been reborn into a new spiritual world all the things he owned he no longer considered everything (I John 2:15-17).

We are residents of this world but not citizens. We have been reborn into the kingdom of God. We live in this world and so we are affected by what happens here; but, because we live here as ‘strangers’ (I Peter 2:11), what happens here does not affect us ultimately.

Only our current bodies – the remnant of our physical birth into this world and our past citizenship – can be affected by what happens in this world. Our spirits are freed from this world’s system when we die to it and are reborn into God’s kingdom. Our minds are renewed as we exercise our new spiritual freedom from this world’s system. And one day we will have new bodies to match our new spirit – immune to pain and death.

Until then, what can this world do to us? It can exert its influence over our current bodies, but not our spirits or our minds. The worst thing the world can do to us is to kill our bodies, and since in their present form they’re already given over to death, and we know that our spirits have already been reborn and can’t be touched by anything in this world’s system, and that we’re guaranteed to one day receive new indestructible bodies to match our eternal spirits, the worst that can happen to us in this world is only temporary and it’s eventual anyway. Not much of a threat when you consider it in the big picture.

When the world’s system swings from good to bad, or for that matter, from bad to good; our reaction as ‘strangers’ should be tempered by the fact that whatever happens here doesn’t ultimately affect our fate.

We live here; our bodies are earthly vessels even if our spirits live forever. We’re affected by what happens here. We get hungry when there’s no food. We can’t pay our power bills when there’s no income. We may be living in a world system that’s in crisis right now, but we don’t have to be in crisis. We have our citizenship in another kingdom. As songwriter Larry Norman said, “We’re only visiting this planet.”

But what about right now? How do we cope with the needs of our current bodies while we’re visiting this planet, and the planet ain’t doing so well? There are advantages to having our citizenship in another kingdom. The King himself promises us his own economic security program while we’re here.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

*****

Having a ‘Christian worldview’ means viewing the world from Christ’s perspective. It’s a perspective that understands that as citizens of His kingdom we can’t be ultimately affected by anything that happens here. And even while we’re here, He personally promises to meet our needs. The starting point for living and thriving in this world, even in the toughest times, is knowing which world you really belong to.

Tags: success · suffering

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 The Story of a Bible Smuggler -”A Simple Witness,” by Wesley E. Smith | christianworldview.net // Mar 22, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    […] spots in the Christian publishing world. (Here is a recent blog he wrote on the importance of a Christian Worldview.) Ironically, I found out recently, that he also had a Winona Lake connection years before, as his […]

  • 2 Wes // Apr 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Dear Steve, I agree with your article. Good work./ At this time we really need to hear the voice of the Lord and obey him. Many exciting things are taking place up here in Indiana. Wow! God told us about the economic mess last August and we acted upon what He said. Perfect timing. Some folks laughed. They are not laughing now./ Keep up the good work. L&P, Wes

Leave a Comment