It’s hard changing your worldview because your worldview primarily operates as a filter of how you interpret reality on the subconscious level. We tend to adopt the worldview of our larger culture, because it provides a unifying context for people in that culture. Changing a worldview is difficult.
Your worldview is your perspective on reality. It’s your interpretive filter through which you decode your experiences and observations. This exists on the assumption level, and most of us aren’t conscious of it working.
Your actual worldview is revealed by your actions, not what you think you believe. Your worldview is what you really believe.
I’ll give an example. I was at the Lambert – St. Louis International Airport to catch an early flight to the Upper North West (in the US), with a brief layover in Las Vegas. While in the security line, the woman next to me struck up a conversation, in which she indicated she had recently injured her back. She was bummed out because she was meeting several family members in Las Vegas and they had planned to walk all over, but she was having difficulty walking at all. In fact, she had a visible, painful-looking limping gait.
I offered to pray for her back, that she might be healed. We were on the same flight to Las Vegas, so once we were through security, we met at the gate, where I laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed three times for her back. By the third time, her back was completely healed, and God was also doing something emotionally with her (as she had just lost her sister, and the family was in the early stages of processing that grief.) That was a pretty cool thing. During that third prayer, I could see the Presence of God on her in physical ways. It was neat.
I claim to have a supernatural worldview; it’s what this website is about… trying to interpret paranormal seeing gifts within a workable and true supernatural framework. But on the plane ride, my default Western scientific materialist worldview started to kick in. What if God didn’t really heal her? What if this uncomfortable plane ride to Las Vegas would bring the pain back? After all, the plane ride was hurting my back! What if her pain meds had just taken effect and I imagined seeing God working on her?
Do you see what was happening in my mind while on the plane? My default scientific materialist worldview that is dominant in my culture was reinterpreting at the subconscious level what initially I had no problem accepting as a biblically supernatural healing. Instead of thinking, “This is what Jesus said would happen!”, I was nervous and I fretted about seeing her maybe limping in pain again when we landed – my actions were betraying my true beliefs despite the theology of healing that I say I believe. In fact, I worried about how embarrassed I’d be when she would be in pain again, and how Jesus’ reputation as a loving and healing God was at stake.
Then I felt supernatural Peace whisper to me, “I can take care of my own reputation. You’re just called to go (and pray, in this situation).” I tried to relax, although I remained a bit nervous.
When we finally landed and disembarked, I saw her… she was walking freely and pain free and thanked me again for praying for her. Yes, I was relieved, and then admonished myself for reinterpreted a clearly supernatural occurrence along materialist lines. But that’s the worldview in which I was raised. It forms the interpretive filter in my mind.
It’s hard to change your worldview. But that’s exactly what the Bible means when its writers said for people to “repent.”
What Jesus Had to Say about Worldview
Biblical authors recorded Jesus’ thoughts on worldview in several places.
Earlier I mentioned how a materialist worldview reduces the distribution of food to humans to a mere financial transaction, devoid of real value. Once, Jesus was talking about money in a similar way. 1
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
And then he said this:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
He concludes his thought about money:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Let’s look at the middle statement. “The eye is the lamp of the body.” The eye is the organ through which you look, through which you see reality, and it fills your body with its interpretation of reality. This doesn’t happen consciously. Those with operative eyes look and see. Essentially, he’s talking metaphorically about worldview – how you see and interpret the world.
“So if your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light…” If you have a correct worldview – focusing on the source of light as the ultimate reality (God), you’ll interpret reality correctly. If you have an incorrect worldview (focusing on anything else as the ultimate reality), you’ll interpret reality incorrectly, but you’ll still think your perception is correct. You won’t even be able to tell darkness from light, from a spiritual perspective.
With respect to money, if you focus on gaining wealth, money will be your master and you’ll not have a healthy perspective on reality. But if you focus on heavenly things, then your perspective will be healthy. By “heavenly things”, Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God, a supernatural thing.
To Jesus, having his worldview was really important. He talked about it all the time. The biblical word “repent” comes from two Greek works which contextually mean “change” and “perception of knowledge.” Change what you know; change your perspective: change your worldview.
If you don’t, Jesus said, then “you will indeed hear but never understand and you will indeed see but never perceive. 2”
When Worldviews Clash
The biblical authors record many stories that reflect a clash of worldviews. Once, after surviving a shipwreck, the Apostle Paul started a camp fire which startled a poisonous snake that jumped out and bit him. As a materialist Westerner, I’d interpret this occurrence as another unlucky chance circumstance of a snake startled out of slumber and striking in self defense at the nearest person, and then I’d want to rush him to a doctor before he died. The primitive pagans around him interpreted this as a sign that Paul, having survived the shipwreck, was a murderer the goddess Justice was angry at and wanted him dead.
Except Paul didn’t die. My Western view then kicks in and assumes the observers misidentified the snake and it wasn’t poisonous at all or perhaps it had just killed a rat or something and the venom hadn’t replenished yet. The primitive pagans interpreted it from their perspective and changed their mind about Paul, now thinking he a divine being. So what really happened? Was it a natural event, a supernatural one, or a little of both? I suppose it depends on your worldview.
In another time recorded in the Book of Acts, God audibly spoke from Heaven to a crowd. The listeners all interpreted this sound through their worldview: some heard thunder; others declared an angel was speaking. The Christians heard God and recorded the words. Who was correct? I suppose it depends on your worldview.
Worldview is a powerful thing.
This is why when some parents report that their children are seeing dark entities and conversing with them, the State hospitalizes the children and treats them with chemicals. The Western medical system is based on a materialist worldview: people are just chemical reactions made of matter and energy, and when the chemical reactions don’t conform to acceptable parameters (established by the culture) then you make them comply by administering other chemicals (drugs).
If the children are in fact perceiving something that is real and spiritual, then the interpretation in a materialist worldview is they must be delusional, to be fixed with drugs and therapy until you adapt their behaviors to conform to acceptable parameters (i.e., not seeing spirits, or at least not telling anyone when they do).
Similarly in primitive pagan cultures, a child that has seizures may be assumed to be possessed by spirits, causing them to refuse medical help, but to turn to a witch doctor or shaman instead.
And here’s where things get tricky.
While medicine may treat the seizures, could there be a spiritual cause that is the root of the condition? Maybe. While spiritual activity may cause some to seize, chemical imbalances may be the sole the culprit. In the account of Paul and the snake, Luke (the author) selected words to tell the story that suggest both the natural and the supernatural was at work (the snake was naturally startled by the fire and Paul was supernaturally healed).
You cannot understand spiritual things with only a materialist worldview. This is hard for Westerners to get.
You cannot understand spiritual things with only a materialist worldview. You cannot understand physical things with only a supernatural worldview.
In addition, you cannot understand physical things with only a supernatural worldview.
There is a propensity in some people to reject scientific materialism, and all reason and logic and thinking with it. They then accept the paranormal nature of the universe and they interpret everything mystically, emotionally, by blind faith and any convenient supernatural lens, even if that lens is in flux from one moment to the next. They open their minds so much that it falls out and they latch on to this teacher or that, and feed on whatever that teacher is offering, rooting truth in that teacher’s perspective, until something happens, and they seek another source to tell them how to think and feel.
It’s important that our worldview isn’t tossed to and fro with the winds of life. It’s important that our worldview can withstand logic, reason, and intelligent criticism. That’s the point of this series, in a sense.
Our worldview should be grounded into something true… which is why the scientific materialist worldview initially is so attractive. For centuries it provided stability rooted in human reason and senses. It was in large part formed out of the fiery chaos of an age that held a supernatural worldview that didn’t really account for everything in the world or for human behavior, a supernatural era where groups of people rooted themselves with this teacher or that teacher, and when groups conflicted – when worldviews clashed – violence and bloodshed ensued. But as has been explained, scientific materialism is failing rapidly as a viable worldview (and frankly has resulted in more violence and bloodshed than all the religious wars in history combined), and can no longer be held to be true.
So what is the source of real truth? On what solid rock can we ground our worldview?
The Solid Rock of Truth
Not everything is caused by spirits. Not everything is the result of natural processes.
Consider an earthquake. A Western materialist mindset looks at an earthquake and says, “Well, that’s the result of plate tectonics.” By default, the Western materialist rejects supernatural causes. It’s not even an option for the materialist to consider.
A primitive pagan mindset looks at an earthquake and says, “Well, that’s the result of two gods fighing, and the victor threw the loser to the earth.” By default, the pagan rejects natural causes. 3
The materialist could look at the primitive pagan and says, “Well you just don’t understand science.” The pagan looks at the materialist and says, “You just don’t understand the spirit world.”
The materialist can point out the scientific data, the tectonic pressures, and explain clearly to the primitive pagan what is going on scientifically. The primitive pagan simply replies, “Of course. That’s what happens when the gods war.” He may also point to special revelation for proof, often in the form of myths (stories about when the supernatural interacts with the natural).
(Before anyone laughs at using myths to form a worldview, recall that Western scientific materialism is also built on several myths, such as the existence of dark energy and dark matter, concepts invented and held to by faith because they solve several problems caused by their worldview, but are unobservable and untestable… and anyone who says, “Well, we just haven’t proved dark energy or dark matter yet, but we will someday” is using the same type of prophetic argument mystics use who say, “Some day such and such supernatural reality will be proved to the world.” Prophecy based on faith is still just a prophecy. It’s not science. The question is… which worldview that produces prophecies is true.)
So back to the earthquake example, who is correct? What’s lacking in both camps is discernment, and the only discernment that is absolutely true comes from the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is God, and God provides the only absolute true way of looking at anything and anyone.
The Holy Spirit takes up residence in individual humans through faith in Jesus, who declared that he was and is absolute Truth. Jesus declared on multiple occasions in ways his audience clearly understood that he was God in the flesh (such claims got him executed for blasphemy). But God declared that Jesus was telling the truth when he resurrected Jesus from the dead and transformed his mortal body into an immortal body. Jesus remains the best way to understand an infinite and invisible God because Jesus was the exact imprint of God’s nature in human form.
A supernatural worldview that most closely resembles Jesus’ perspective provides the most accurate interpretation of everyone and everything in the universe.
A supernatural worldview that most closely resembles Jesus’ perspective provides the most accurate interpretation of everyone and everything in the universe.
I call this biblical supernaturalism. How God sees the world, people, and phenomena is the most accurate way to see things (and any perspective that contradicts how God sees things is a lie) and Jesus was and is the exact imprint of God in human form.
It’s important to realize that, before he died, Jesus was a mortal human. He as God literally set aside his divinity and was born from a woman as a human baby and lived a normal human life until he was filled with the Holy Spirit when he turned 30. From then on, he could do his amazing miracles, including discerning when occurrences were natural and when they were supernatural and if supernatural, he could discern what spirit was behind them. He discerned when sicknesses were based on natural causes and when they were based on supernatural causes, through the Holy Spirit.
So, how do we get Jesus’ worldview? We repent. This is what Jesus said to do: Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. This means to change your perspective on reality and take on God’s perspective.
Jesus’ audience had lots of assumptions about what “the Kingdom of God is at hand” meant, and none of them matched Jesus’ assumptions, but Jesus’s assumptions were the only true assumptions. He wanted his followers to change their perspective to match his, because as God, he had the perfect perspective on reality.
This takes some effort. Jesus said some pretty jarring things, which were meant to break the listeners out of their existing interpretive framework and into a Kingdom of God worldview… into a worldview based on the solid rock of truth.
How to Repent
To gain God’s perspective on reality, you have to turn to God. Many in the religious community demand that you “repent of your sin.” Interestingly this phrase never occurs in the Bible (nor any variation of it). Grammatically speaking, to the Biblical authors, “of your sins” doesn’t modify the action verb “repent.”
Jesus didn’t talk about repentance as a focus on sin; he talked about it as refocusing your heart on God. It’s not turning away from sin, but rather turning towards God (which of course results in turning away from sin). This is why walking with God is not about following rules, but about changing your perspective and pursuing Jesus.
The essence of repentance is a paradigm shift, or a change in worldview. It is to start thinking from a different place and therefore consider a different set of options in a circumstance. 4
Changing worldview to Jesus’ worldview is hard, but it’s possible. It’s why Jesus spoke so much in parables. Those with eyes to see, he said, would see. Those with ears to hear would hear: Those with the correct worldview would understand the meaning behind his parables.
The key to changing your worldview is your heart, not your brain. I’m not saying to reject critical thinking or logic. I’m saying critical thinking and logic yield truth when your heart is oriented with the correct worldview. As we recognize that our perspective is flawed, we can humbly open our hearts to God to allow him to change it.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to see God (have God’s worldview), you had to be pure of… mind? No. Pure of heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8 ESV)
Paul said the key was to believe in your heart (Romans 10:9), not your mind. He stated that lack of understanding resulted from the hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18). Once the heart is oriented to Truth – and Truth is a Man, your thinking follows, and then you can discern correctly what is going on around you.
The Apostle Paul explains it thus:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).
The word translated as “transformed” is only used four times in the entire Bible, twice in reference to God changing his believers to be like Jesus. The other two times, it’s translated “transfigured”, referring to this event:
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2, KJV) 5
When you turn your whole being over to God, the result is the renewal of your mind – the changing of your worldview to God’s worldview, and at the end of this process you’ll be transformed to be like Jesus, just like he was on that mountain.
- Matthew 6:19-24, ESV. ↩
- Matthew 13:14 ESV ↩
- This example comes from Putty Putnam’s “School of Kingdom Ministry” class on Worldviews. See “School of Kigndom Ministry Manuel: Understand and Accessing the Kingdom”, Putty Putnam (2013), or visit http://schoolofkingdomministry.org/ ↩
- Putnam, Putty, “School of Kingdom Ministry”, Equipping the Saints, 2013, (18). ↩
- This passage says “Peter, James, and John…” When you render their names literally, the passage reads “Rocks are being replaced by God’s Grace” – a picture of how the law written on stones was being replaced by God’s grace through Jesus. ↩