Eyes wide open…but not seeing, talking past each other

The day started so well people agreed and we moved forwards, then there was a difference and everything, all effort got focused on the difference. The debate got heated as the time when on, the views grew further and further apart and from a good start there seemed to be an impasse, at that point  it then becomes personal. People began to listen not to hear but just retort, answer, yet the answer was affirming their position, the aspect of listening was out and attention was focused on the response rather than listening. It is always a danger when listening to hearing migrates to getting answers.

When disagreements occur, people usually talk past each other, find others who agree with their view or worst still, their worldview and then sit in their corners dispensing memos that say little of value.  

As a child I am sure you recall walking around the schoolyard chanting to gain a group around you “Who wants to be in my gang, my gang”,  the chant, these words even got captured in a popular song years ago which tells me of how regular it happened.

The messages and memos only reinforce the worldview of that person or group and the world is considered a little ‘safer’ because of the security sensed within that worldview. Unfortunately, because of entrenched world-views, little real communication and change is possible around issues of critical importance in any setting.

A worldview is not ‘the way we look at the world’, it is ‘the lens through which we see the world’. Most people are not aware that they are looking through the lens of ‘worldview’. 

I wear spectacles and number of months ago I got new spectacles and at first, I could not see correctly through them, one reason for this suggested it was due to the change of shape of the lenses and  I needed to get used to them, which seemed plausible. However, after 24 hours of struggle I returned to the optician only to discover they had put one lens in upside-down. The lens has given me a view which admittedly was in focus until I tried reading with them, the lens were sight focus but when it came to reading rather than reading at the bottom of the lens the reading view for one eye was at the top and the other eye at the bottom of the spectacles. It was my view, not correct, not quite in focus, could only see one or two words on a page not the whole view.

Each of us have lenses over our eyes which create the world we look at, it is our world view.  

If we are unaware of that lens, then we are hard-pressed to ‘see the world as it is’. The lens has coloured and distorted our view of reality.

The narrative of the scripture is introducing us constantly to encounters and events that bring about changes in our views. I would even suggest that repentance in truth is a world view change this ‘metanoeo’ the Greek world the turning of one’s mind and direction, to adopt another view is a major necessary world view change. Many narratives outline a worldview change yet one that may help us at this time is in the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10. The story introduces us to a man named Cornelius, a middle-ranking army officer, with 100 men under him, described as a ‘devout’ man who ‘revered God’. In other words, he worshipped Yahweh, but had not gone through the ritual of circumcision to identify himself as ‘fully Jewish’. God directed Cornelius to summon Peter who lived in Joppa, some 33 miles away.

The whole story shows how dedicated Peter is to his ‘worldview’, which is one of being ‘Jewish’ as he understood. But Peter’s vision from God ends up reforming the lens through which he sees his world with the ‘pagans’ who are not to be interacted.

Tom Wright puts it in his Acts for Everyone commentary:

At this point, we must remind ourselves of one of the basic points about the Jewish food laws. It wasn’t just that the Jews weren’t allowed to eat pork. There was a whole range of meat which they were forbidden; they are listed (for example) in Leviticus 11, and were much discussed by later generations. And these food laws, whatever their origin, served to mark out the Jewish people from their non-Jewish neighbours, a rule reinforced by the prohibition on Jews eating with non-Jews, sharing table fellowship. The reasoning was clear: the people you sit down and eat with are ‘family’, but the Jewish ‘family’ has been called by God to be separate, to bear witness to his special love and grace to the world, and must not, therefore, compromise with the world.

This an astounding story suddenly a confrontation of a blunt reality that his worldview about what it means to be ‘part of God’s family’, along with the realisation that he needs changing. Peter responds in his realisation of God in daily life and says: Peter took a deep breath and began.‘It’s become clear to me’, he said, ‘that God really does show no favouritism. No: in every race, people who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him. He sent his word to the children of Israel, announcing peace through Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all!. Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all!

In this thought of Jesus Christ as Lord of all a new worldview has happened, Lord within a Jewish worldview is one thing but Lord of all!

This brings us to how important it is to look at how ‘World-views’ work. If we don’t understand these concepts, we will continue to think we ‘see the world’ as it is rather than through the ‘lenses’ we all have.

Social scientist and behavioural scientist tell us that worldview is a combination of Narrative, Automatic actions, Symbols, and Questions. 

How these are defined and how they interact tells us about what makes up the ‘lens’ of how we see things. 

Bluntly, this is the ‘bias’ we all have, the bases of every decision, the root of every action, even every comment and conversation. 

If our worldview is a ‘Christ Centred worldview’, then we are doing well at becoming the New Creation people. If we reveal aspects of our worldview that are less than God intends, then we must change our minds ‘metanoeo’, that is repent, truly adopting another view, which is, at its essence, a ‘changing of the mind’.

Peter is convinced that the Jewish story properly describes what being a follower of Yahweh looks like. This is the reason for his reluctance of ‘listening to God’, his invoice initially’ It actually affected Peter’s ability to accept people, especially these Gentile followers of God as being a part of God’s family, this is opposite to what he ‘knew’ regarding God.

Convinced that dietary laws part of his automatic actions that are part of the ‘way’ a person lives is necessary. Symbols circumcision, eating ‘unclean foods’, even how can I welcome a Gentile into my house, which means not part of the family of God?.

The demonstration of the change of worldview happening in this story is demonstrated by a new symbol inviting the household Peter stood in, Peter asks for water to baptise Cornelius and welcomes an alien into God’s family. 

A powerful narrative of not just difference or change but world view transformation 

Now our challenge is this, every one of us live with and sometimes under our worldview, the question is will my worldview enable me to travel along the journey of life to see reality through Christ-like eyes? Does my lens give me the right view or just a say lens was upside down do I need to correct, could be just slightly?

We all have lenses through which we see the world, I need your lenses made known to transform my lens. You assist me to transform my world view in your difference so I can see more clearly. I need your lens you need mine so we can find Christ-likeness together.

Help me to change my lens, that is mentanoeo, change my mind because my world view does not represent how God would have me to see the world. How about you?

Corporately finding a worldview to be one new body. Let me close in saying I would not throw away my past as it got me to today but I would pray and ask we see the future as coming from God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the eternal Kingdom of God. Not my personal view or church structure view but letting Christ invade us to see with a Christ-centred world view. Let us help one another.

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