Are we stuck in our thinking?

Our worldview has an incredible effect on what we think, feel and act. On the news the other night, there was an interview with an African lady who was fighting for freedom regarding the 200 million women undergoing female genital mutilation.  The WHO has been actively seeking to stop the practice for many years but it’s part of the ritual of 30 countries from Africa, Middle East and Asia.  There are no benefits only harm, says the WHO.  So, after all these years why does it not stop?  Because, it is deep in their cultures and a social norm that threatens social rejection if not carried on.  It’s part of their worldview.

Recently we have had riots in many cities over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer with other police officers watching on.  There were days of protests in US cities including Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle, and European cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam after the Floyd case, reignited deep seated anger over police killings of blacks, injustice and racism.  Whether we like it or not the conclusion we have to come to is that prejudice and racism is alive and well all over our world. Every nation seems to have an inbuilt prejudice towards certain nationalities or ethnic groups.  It’s part of the cultures – we joke about certain people groups – we put them down so we can feel better about ourselves. How do we get rid of these deep felt emotions?  They are part of our worldview.

Jesus entered into a religious culture with strong traditions and laws that were upheld by the Sadducees and Pharisees of the day.  Their religion centred on the temple in Jerusalem where they would travel each year for special celebrations and sacrifices.  They had a sacrificial system since the days of Moses that would cleanse them of their sin and appease God for his anger and wrath against them. 

Jesus came bringing a new message of freedom from rules and regulations and summed up the law with two commandments – to love God and love one another.  He forgave people for their sins with a word, much to the pharisees horror.  This went against their system.  If we think a central piece of our theology is under threat, and for the pharisees it was the temple, then we will do everything to protect it, to teach the principles of it, to get rid of antagonists and to fight for it to survive. 

The disciples had been taught from the beginning the importance of the temple – the prophets and leaders wept over its destruction and rebuilt it – then wept and cried again, because it wasn’t quite built as beautifully as the first one.  In fact, the orthodox Jews are still waiting for the rebuilding of the third temple.

Mark 12:32-34 The religious scholar replied, “Yes, that’s true, Teacher. You spoke beautifully when you said that God is one, and there is no one else besides him. And there is something more important to God than all the sacrifices and burnt offerings: it’s the commandment to constantly love God with every passion of your heart, with your every thought, and with all your strength—and to love your neighbour in the same way as you love yourself.” When Jesus noticed how thoughtfully and sincerely the man answered, he said to him, “You’re not far from the reality of God’s kingdom realm.”

This religious scholar had seen it, he’d understood the message that most hadn’t.  The implication was that the temple wasn’t needed anymore – forgiveness was to be freely given through Jesus. We didn’t need to appease God like other religions.  He loves us and wants to forgive us and see our lives transformed to be like Jesus.

Even after Jesus had spoken about the new covenant and the destruction of the temple and the fact that there was no need for the temple anymore, it was difficult for the disciples to really get hold of this truth.  Even Peter, the spokesperson for the 12 on the day of Pentecost is later in a conflict with Paul because he had sided with the Jewish believers who still held on to the temples’ importance and the traditions of the Jews. 

All Israel was under captivity of the Romans – there had been a whole stream of rebels and zealots who were devout Jews who wanted Israel to take its place once more and rule their own people.  Each uprising had its own hero.  There was an understanding that the messiah would be one of these heroes, but he would be the ultimate hero who would bring Israel back to rule and reign.  They saw Jesus as the ultimate hero, the king of the new Israel.  And because of this, he had to walk away when the people wanted to raise him up as the new king!  They put their hopes in a political messiah, but Jesus came with a very different mandate. Jesus tried to get this across to the disciples, but their worldview didn’t allow them to take a hold of what Jesus was saying.  Even after the resurrection, his disciples ask, ‘will you now restore Israel?’ They didn’t get it.

Do we have ‘temple thinking’ and ‘messiah misunderstandings’ in our worldview?  Are there certain things we are holding on to that perhaps are just not true but we are emotionally or socially attached? 

Jesus is brought a dilemma regarding the man who was born blind.  He is asked the question, ‘has he sinned or his parents?’ We think wow, that shows their worldview.  But has it changed today?  When someone is sick and not healed, what is sometimes the response?  It’s their lack of faith or it’s an attack of the enemy.  There always has to be a reason that we pin it on.  There has to be someone to blame, someone to condemn, a scapegoat of some kind.  Doesn’t the rain fall on the righteous and unrighteous?   We are in a fallen world where good and bad things happen.  If I pray and God doesn’t heal me, do I then conclude that God doesn’t love me enough to heal, that God doesn’t protect me, that I haven’t fulfilled the conditions, whatever they are?  The bottom line is – we haven’t changed our worldview!

It’s time to think through what we believe, and why we believe it. Let’s not allow old temple thinking to hinder our relationship with God and our relationship with others.  Love has to be our goal and motivation in all we do. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, he was anointed to bring hope for the poor, freedom for the broken hearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ He came to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance had begun.”

Let’s allow Jesus to renew our worldview to see like he does.

Until next month

Stephe

2 thoughts on “Are we stuck in our thinking?

  1. revpaul2013revpaul04 July 2, 2020 / 20:31

    Hi Steph,

    Thanks as always for you newsletter. Reminded me of a paragraph from a paper I am working on for research. I’ll pass the story on to you.

    Blessings, Paul

    A practical example of Senge using his system thinking attunement to address a systemic issue is found in Brian McLaren’s book, Finding Our Way Again. McLaren was organizing a pastors’ conference, and Peter Senge was to give the keynote speech. While preparing for the conference, the topic of spirituality came up, particularly the spirituality of Buddhism. Musing on the rise of interest in Buddhism, McLaren asked Senge why he thought this alternative spiritual interest was on the rise in the North American culture. Senge’s response follows, “I think it’s because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of beliefs. So, I would want to get Christian ministers thinking about how to rediscover their own faith as a way of life, because that’s what people are searching for today. That’s what they need most (emphasis added).”

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  2. stephen July 3, 2020 / 09:01

    Totally agree – good quote.

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