What’s a worldview? A “simple view of the world?” Or is it something deeper, grander, and much more comprehensive than that? The Bible records the story of Peter going to the household of Cornelius. While there, Peter’s view of those outside Judaism would move towards dramatic and dynamic change. God gave him a supernatural vision of what it really meant to be “clean” and “included” (read Acts 10:9-23).
Worldview can be defined as “the totality of the culturally structured images and assumptions (including value and commitment or allegiance assumptions) in terms of which a people both perceive and respond to reality. Worldview is not separate from culture. It is included in culture as the structuring in the deepest level pictures and presuppositions on which people base their lives” (Kraft 1989, 12).
Your worldview includes your most basic assumptions, values and allegiances in life. All human interpretation is based on worldview assumptions. You ordinarily follow your worldview habitually and unconsciously. To understand more deeply why you and others do what they do, you need to understand both your worldview and theirs.
Someone has written that a worldview has five critical characteristics:
- Worldview assumptions are learned by people as children; and, therefore, are not reasoned out but are assumed to be true without prior proof.
- Like all of culture, a worldview is an organized system consisting of several layers and types of assumptions, each relating to all others but serving a distinct function.
- A people’s worldview provides them with a lens as well as a model or map in terms of which “reality” is perceived and interpreted.
- We are not only guided by our worldview in the commitment we make, but we are also committed to our worldview.
- Of all the problems that occur when people of different societies come into contact with each other, those arising from differences in worldview are the most difficult to deal with (Source Unknown).
Peter learned as a child that God chose the Jews, to work through them to bring salvation to the world. His Jewish worldview had never included the possibility that other people groups could also have a relationship with YHWH. This perspective (and assumption), which Peter carried into adulthood, had to be confronted if the good news of Jesus Christ was to impact his life and ministry deeply. So God began enlarging and changing Peter’s worldview by giving him a vision that included all peoples, not just the Jewish people.
As followers of Jesus we need to become aware of our assumptions, examine them, and, if necessary, change them in order to be influenced more by biblical principles in our daily living. “For God so loved the world!” (John 3:16).
So, what assumptions do you make about life? Are they grounded on the principles of the Bible? Are you willing to change when your assumptions are challenged?