In our world there are many different and competing ideologies by which people make decisions and live their lives. Some people call these ideas worldviews; others call them narratives or stories. Some of the more obvious worldviews are the views of the major religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Judaism. Other worldviews are not religious in nature like capitalism, socialism, or communism. People who adhere to these worldviews attempt to live their lives according to these worldviews, or stories.
But there are other stories out there, too. Stories of which we may not even be conscious. These stories (or worldviews) have become part of the fabric of our society. They have become so enmeshed in our culture we don’t even see them anymore. And that’s a dangerous place to be. Because we, as followers of Jesus Christ, live our lives according to a different worldview – a different story. Our story, the Christian story (the story of the gospel – the good news) is a “critical alternative to the enmeshments in which we find ourselves in the church and in society.” (1)
The problem is we don’t often realize that the story we think we are following is not the story of the gospel, rather it is one of these competing stories that we have unwittingly absorbed from our culture. It’s like this story that David Wallace Foster shared in one of the most talked about commencement speeches:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” (2)
It’s like the fish don’t know they are in water. They’re completely surrounded by it so that they can’t even see it. As Foster says, “The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.”
This is how it is with us sometimes. As followers of Jesus in a society where we are the minority, we’re surrounded by so many people who think and behave differently than we do. Inevitably, we find ourselves blending in with the society. The dominant ideologies of our day end up seeping into our worldview and we aren’t even aware of it! It’s just part of the air we breathe.
Each week in this sermon series we will look at different cultural stories that promise to bring joy and satisfaction. Not only are these stories powerful, they distort our Christian story. Furthermore, they do not make us joyful or satisfied. They are lies. They fail to produce what they promise. They only produce “new depths of insecurity and new waves of unhappiness.” (3) Each week we will contrast and compare one of these worldviews with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Paul exhorts us to do this very thing when he writes in Romans 12: 2 when he states, “Do not conform 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.”
That word, “world” is more literally translated “age.” “The “pattern of this age” refers to the dominant ways of thinking, the stories which shape the world around us. Paul is not, therefore, talking about avoiding any particular kind of activities. He warns us against a deeper, more pervasive danger, the danger of conforming to a story that differs from God’s story for us.” (4)
Join us. Every Sunday in January and February at 10am. Cornerstone Alliance Church.
(1) From Walter Brueggeman’s article, “Counterscripts”. http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3307
(2) Read the entire speech here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/20/fiction
(3) “Counterscripts” http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3307
(4) from Wilkens, Steve; Sanford, Mark L.. Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives