The Christian Worldview & Personal Change

As you know, I work in the healthcare field. One of my roles is to help design programs to help people change their lifestyles and improve their personal health. So I spend a lot of time looking at various wellness programs and employee health insurance programs trying to understand what works and what doesn’t. Frankly, most programs in most organizations don’t work very well for most people. There may be many reasons why not, but one thing I’ve noticed is that typically these programs are designed from the wrong worldview.

What’s a worldview? One online dictionary has these definitions:

  1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
  2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

For our purposes, I suggest defining a worldview as “how things are” or “how things work” in the world. You might liken a worldview to a computer’s operating system. If you want to program the computer or add an application, you had better understand what operating system you’re dealing with. Trying to install Microsoft Office for Windows on an Apple Mac just isn’t going to work. Knowing the computer’s operating system allows you to use it properly. Similarly having the right worldview allows you operate effectively in the world. In our case here that means to design an effective personal change process.

There are many possible worldviews, but as followers of Jesus we should have a distinctly Christian Worldview (CW) as revealed to us from God through the Bible. However, in America that’s an uncommon position compared with what I call the American Secular Worldview (ASW). Let me compare and contrast some elements of these two worldviews:

ASW: People are just here. This world is all there is. Let’s make the best of it while we’re here. People have a right to be independent. My behavior, habits, choices are my own business.
CW: People are created by God. There is an unseen spiritual world and we should live in harmony with it and God. People are made to be in relationship with God and with others. God has an interest in my behavior, habits, and choices.

ASW: People are rational agents and human nature is inherently good. Given good information, people will make good choices. Social problems/bad circumstances cause people to make poor choices. People simply need more knowledge, tools and resources to live better lives.
CW: People are inherently flawed. Sin is the root of our poor choices and social problems. Most social problems can’t be “solved” through large-scale programs. Jesus is the answer for sin. Self-control is fruit of the Holy Spirit. Transformation and better lives happen “by the ones.”

ASW: Structure, discipline and constraints are bad. More choices and more freedom are good for people.
CW: People by and large can’t handle freedom. Most individuals are not in good control of their behavior. Accountability to a group is a practical necessity. Constraints and discipline are helpful in living a good life.

ASW: Physical illness is an independent event. People just get sick. There is no underlying reason. Mind and body are connected but it’s not that important. We can cure illness (even lifestyle illness) with more research, better drugs, and new surgeries.
CW: Illness exists because sin has entered the world. Most illness is lifestyle related and, in general, we bring lifestyle illness on ourselves through sinful behavior. People are generally not in good control of their behavior because they are not emotionally and spiritually well. Mind, body and spirit are inseparable and completely interdependent. No physical treatment will cure an illness of spiritual cause.

ASW: Better technology is the answer. If we have technology we should use it. Knowledge comes from science. With enough research we will solve all of our problems.
CW: Wisdom and true knowledge come from God. Man is prideful when he believes he can solve all problems. Just because man has a technology doesn’t mean he should use it.

ASW: A person knows what is good for him- or herself. Their choices should always be supported.
CW: People often don’t know what is good for them.  We may deceive ourselves about our own poor choices.  Our call as Christians is to love others. We should always act out of love, which may mean not supporting others’ choices.

You can see how these two worldviews have very different implications for our thoughts and actions on personal change. This is foundational stuff. Study it. Do some additional reading on the Christian Worldview, and think about which worldview you typically operate from. I’ll be returning to these concepts in future posts.

Comments

  1. So, from your perspective, what is the CW perspective for healthy living?
    And, how do you reconcile the inherent nature and dynamics of how ‘we’ live our society and contrast that with what you see as the healthy CW perspective of healthy living? Given the understanding from a CW that Christ is the centerpiece and model for that CW and how that is contrasted to our western cultural norms?

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Lynn,
      Those questions are too big for a short reply. Essentailly they represent the subject for this entire blog project. Stay tuned as we look at how to live and be well.