Being a missionary outside of my own culture gives me a unique opportunity to step back and evaluate my own world view in a way that is clearer and less (hopefully) self-deceived than if I never stepped foot outside my own nation. The problem is I have failed to really spend any significant time taking advantage of this opportunity. So my reason for writing this short “treatise” is mainly for personal benefit (yes, individualism is one of the many problems with my world view), but also for the benefit of Christian brothers and sisters who live in America as well as those who know Americans and wonder what is wrong with them. This will come in parts—this first part is only the introduction, but more will follow.
So for starters, what is a word view? It is simply the way a person views the world. It is how I view myself, and how I relate to God and the people around me. Obviously for Christians, our goal should be to view the world as God would have us view it (see Appendix A if you disagree…), that we would view the world as He intended us to – that He, as the old hymn goes, would be our vision.
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
As was stated in the title, this is a critique of my world view. It’s not that I don’t love America, I do! Or that I don’t appreciate the great freedoms and privileges I have as an American. But I love God more, and want to love Him more and more each day. So when America gets in the way of my loving God, America needs to go and not vice versa. There are some positive attributes in my American world view, and I will seek to point them out, but for the most part, my “Americanness” gets in the way of having a right view of myself, and a right view of God, and therefore inhibits my relationship with God. I pray that through this undertaking that God will give me insight into sinful blind spots in my world view that keep me from getting more intimate with Him, and give me the grace to cast aside these broken cisterns that keeps me from drinking fully from the fountain of Life, and that He would be seen as gloriously beautiful among the nations through my satisfaction in Him.
One question remains to be answered before I go any farther: is there really any biblical merit to the study of one’s own world view? The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus (a missionary to a culture outside of his own) the following: “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:12-13). Paul made a cultural observation—a critique of the Cretans world view, and then outlined steps for Titus to take in order to combat the error in their world view. The main step in this case was to “rebuke them sharply”. There are other examples in Scripture where it is clear world view was taken into account when God’s messengers spoke, even Christ Himself took the world view of his listeners into account when He preached (ex. Matt. 5:21-22). The biblical purpose in understanding a world view is to see where it aligns and, more importantly, where it falls short of reality—the way God views the world and us. If we come to a study of world view with any other purpose, then it really is a worthless and empty pursuit.