In the last decade we saw a trend rise in recovering the importance of a Christian worldview. While nothing new, the challenge to think “Christianly” within a biblical framework helped people remember that thoughts and ideas are not neutral – they have a place within a larger story and help to move it along. A worldview itself functions like a set of lenses through which you see the world – and it’s made of cultural experience and social formation as much as any theology or adopted set of beliefs, ideas, or creeds.
I was fortunate enough to be taught to avoid the more “checklist-like” approaches (What does this worldview say about God? Jesus? About sin? Etc.) in favor of a deeper analysis that asked a series of fundamental questions:
- Who are we? What are we as human beings? Who are we really?
- Where are we? What is “this world” like? Where do we find ourselves?
- What’s the problem? What, if anything, has gone wrong in or with us or with this world?
- What’s the solution? What needs to happen? What are we being taught or encouraged to do? how do we change? grow? take action? move forward?
But now I think we need to add a fifth to this grid of questions for evaluating a worldview:
5. How’s it going to end? Or – where is this story going? Does it have a telos? Does it have an implicit or explicit goal? How’s it going to end?
Here’s my conviction – you cannot tell the Christian story of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ without making clear where the story is headed. Let me go further: if you can’t or don’t talk about where it is headed, you aren’t truly telling the Christian story. “Eschatology” – the theological study of the “last things,” the climax of history in the culmination of God’s story – isn’t that nifty category you tack on to your belief system or that thing you mention if you have time in a class or if someone gets courage to pop the question.
For Christians, what God has done in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through his Spirit has broken into the middle of history from the end. This king of Israel, Jesus the Messiah, is also the world’s true Lord. The “now” we live in is always in light of the “not yet” that is to come, as we remember every time we pray that his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. So everything from our ethics to our aesthetics, our service to our singing has to be seen not only in light of how things got started but also what God is bringing about in the New Creation. This is the anchor to our hope. This is Paul’ argument in 1 Corinthians 15 – that there is real victory over death and sin and all its power, victory proclaimed now even as we look forward to that Day when the end will come and all there is but one kingdom – the new heavens and the new earth. Note that the whole chapter is bracketed by a declaration of the gospel (v3-4) and ringing exhortation to give yourself fully to the work of the Lord in light of his victory (v58).
So let’s start asking the question – how’s it going to end? Because we believe that reality is headed somewhere, that God is moving his story forward to a glorious climax. That vision, a sure and certain hope, drives us back into the here and now with the courage and faith to get to work.
A story that can’t or won’t talk about where things are going isn’t a Christian story.