“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8, ESV)
Kids and Biblical Worldview
Kids ask, “Why should I care about people on the other side of the globe?“ Many children are “nearsighted” and self-focused, showing concern only for what immediately affects them. They are largely indifferent about what matters most to God. Without a biblical worldview, it is easy to drift from God’s purposes, God’s truth, and God’s heart for the world.
Our worldview is the lens through which we interpret everything we see. Worldview becomes the foundation of our beliefs and decisions about relationships, culture, science, education, and faith. A correct worldview begins with the infinite, personal God revealed in the Bible. God wants people to view the world from His perspective. The Scriptures form the framework for living out a consistent, Christ-centered worldview. A biblical vantage point clarifies truth about God, the infallibility of Scripture, Jesus, salvation, morality, and the role of evil in the world (just to name a few!).
In 2009, George Barna released results from a revisited study about US trends in Biblical worldview. This study compared current research to similar studies from 1995, 2000, and 2005.1 The research showed how a person’s worldview consistently impacts his or her life. “A worldview serves as a person’s decision-making filter, enabling them to make sense of the complex and huge amount of information, experiences, relationships and opportunities they face in life. By helping to clarify what a person believes to be important, true and desirable, a worldview has a dramatic influence on a person’s choices in any given situation.”2 In practice, our worldview influences decisions on topics as varied as lying, use of money, evangelism, and sexuality.
“Witnesses” simply report and share what they have observed and learned to be true. Jesus told His followers to be His witnesses to neighbors, to local communities, and to “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Worldview gives form to the message that we communicate to others daily. When we truly understand that we are ambassadors for Christ to friends, neighbors, and our community (2 Corinthians 5:20), that “worldview lens” affects even the smallest of our decisions.
Little Thomas was having a rough time with his new second grade class. Each morning he tearfully begged his mom for permission to stay home, lamenting his lack of friends and his struggle to connect with his teacher. Thomas’ difficulty was not merely the transition to new relationships; he also was experiencing a new classroom structure. Moving from a small class to a larger rule-based instruction style was a difficult shift for him.
Alli held Thomas as he sniffed and wiped his tears. “Son, this is something we can work together to overcome. You represent Jesus in this new classroom.” Alli smiled as she thought about the innocent question Thomas had asked his teacher a few days before: “Do you know Jesus?” She had nodded ruefully and said, “I’ve heard of Him.” The teacher’s voice had held an edge of bitterness. Alli wondered, “Can Thomas’ 8-year-old mind wrap around the reality that his tough circumstances could lead to occasions to help other people? Should I step in and seek a different classroom for my son? Lord help!”
Alli saw a growth opportunity for her son. If Thomas could catch a vision that he is God’s representative in a challenging place, his entire perspective could change about school. Instead of seeing what was hard, Thomas could view what God was doing. The difficulties could become purposeful. Over the next few days, Alli and Chris sat with Thomas and talked about his identity in Christ, his role as Jesus’ representative, and the strength and courage God gives to stand strong in the midst of struggles. Alli and Chris were determined to balance shepherding their son’s heart with inviting him to see hard things through God’s eyes. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Thomas’ journey continued through ups and downs, small victories, and difficult days. Alli made sure to process each day with her son; they worked through many questions about the world and about life. This constant tending to Thomas’ heart allowed him to sift through the worldview he was being taught. In the end, he was able to see people and events through the lens of God’s truth.
Call to Action
According to Barna’s research, by the age of nine a child’s worldview has been largely shaped; at age 13 it is firmly in place. Throughout the teen and adult years, a person’s perspective can be refined and reshaped, but people become much less pliable as they age.3 Therefore, it is vital for adults and parents who influence and invest in children to consistently communicate a solid biblical foundation and worldview.
Tips for Teaching Biblical Worldview
- Find two sunglasses with differently tinted lenses (look for drastically different lens colors such as pink or yellow). Have your child put on one pair of glasses and stand outside. Ask for his or her observations about the color of objects around them. Switch to the other glasses and talk about how different everything looks when your lenses change. In the same way, when you see things through God’s view, it changes how everything else looks!
- Use a globe, maps, or Internet source to introduce your child to God’s panoramic view of the world. As you “zoom in” to your own community, talk about what God sees and what He desires.
- Find practical ways to influence those around you: participate in local missions ministries, learn about church missionaries, pray for revival, take a family missions trip.
1 Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years at www.barna.org, March 6, 2009.