Your Most Central and Significant Decisions
August 26, 2020
Did you know that, although life is full of decisions, there are only a few that actually determine the course of our lives? The rest of the choices we make are all connected to those decisions. The quality of five to seven decisions determines every other choice we get to make and the quality of life we live. Truth is, though, many of us approach those decisions casually, thinking we’ll just figure it out, or we feel like life has forced everything on us and we can’t actually make a choice. Or we make decisions that hamper the rest of our lives. The bottom line is that we make a few major decisions, and we spend the rest of our lives managing those decisions.
For the next few weeks we are going to look at seven decisions that are the most pivotal and think about how we can make good decisions and manage the decisions we make.
The first one I want us to think about is “What is my worldview?” Everybody has a worldview, whether they acknowledge it or not. More often than not, they do not talk about it simply because they are unaware. Asking someone about his or her worldview is usually like asking a fish to describe how wet the water is or a polar bear to describe snow. They have no clue what it is; they are just in it. Nonetheless, however ill-informed you are, your worldview tells almost everything about you.
Have you ever thought about why you look at things the way you do, when your friends and loved ones might look at them differently? Everyone makes some basic assumptions as part of living; this is inevitable. For instance, when you turn on the news, do you assume you're going to agree with what the reporters are saying? When you see a child from afar, do you assume she is happy or sad?
A worldview is not about what we see in the physical reality of the world we live in; that is science. It is the metaphysical, or philosophical, or ideological reality of the world. It governs how we live, not where we live. It defines why we live, what we live for, what we appreciate, what we reject, what we are passionate about, and what we detest. So, you can see that this choice is vital—it is foundational to every other choice we make.
So many different things can inform your worldview, including, but not limited to, your cultural background, the worldviews of people in your family, experiences you have had in life, close relationships with others. There are a few central elements derived from those sources of information that shape our worldview:
- How we think. This is central. Do not let anyone take that away from you or the next generation that you have the privilege of leading. As a person thinks, so they will live. Everything else follows from this first category.
- How we discern between right and wrong. We cannot make a moral decision without having a clear idea of what is right and wrong. Our cognition and our morality are like two sides of the same coin. As we think, so we live. If we think something is alright even though it is morally wrong, we will act wrongly.
- What we do with what is right and what is wrong. The common phrase “the ends justify the means” is the belief that says, “It does not matter what I do as long as I get the job done.” Is it really true that the ends justify the means? Not really. But we seem to think about it that way most of the time. Every time we get into a situation where it is going to affect us, the first thing we are tempted to compromise on is not what we do, but how we do it.
If you want to improve your worldview, first you have to identify it and figure out what it is all about. So, what really is your worldview? Think about your answers to these questions:
- What is your first thought when you meet another person? What aspects of that person do you notice, and what impression are you likely to make?
- What's your overall approach to trying new things, ranging from new foods to new experiences?
- What are some of your pet peeves, stumbling blocks, and obstacles; things that can prevent you from feeling calm or from achieving your goals?
- What helps you judge your own success and the success of others in life?
James Sire, in his book The Universe Next Door, catalogs general worldviews and lists seven questions to get to the heart of any worldview. By asking these seven questions, we can find out not only where someone else stands, but where we stand. These questions will reveal inconsistencies in personal beliefs. Here are the seven questions, and some possible answers?
- What is the prime reality—the really real? Christians will say it is God. The atheist may answer matter, the universe, or natural laws.
- What is the nature of the world or universe around us? Was it created, did it just pop into being, is it ordered, is it chaos, does it even exist or is something we create in our mind?
- What is a human being? Is it created in the image of God, a highly complex machine, a cosmic accident, an evolved ape?
- What happens when a person dies? Is it heaven with God, or hell, a higher state, reincarnation, or do we cease to exist altogether?
- Is it possible to know absolute truth? Is it yes, we are made in the image of God? Christ, who was fully God, became flesh and knew all truth; therefore, we can know truth as well. Or is it no, consciousness is something that evolved based on the survival of the fittest, and we cannot have confidence that what survives can necessarily know truth? It is all just chemicals firing in the brain. What we call knowledge is just a mental phenomenon, and we cannot know whether it corresponds to reality.
- How do we know what is right and wrong? Are we made in the image of God and have His law written on our hearts and told to us in His revealed Word? Or is morality something we make up to order society, so there is no ultimate right and wrong?
- What is the meaning of human history? Or who is in charge of history? Did God create it for a purpose and has a plan that all things are moving toward? Or is no one in charge? All of it is random chance and ultimately meaningless, and though we may place some meaning on it, even our meaning is relative.
All of these questions reveal a person’s worldview, and you will see that at the center is either the true God or something else. Any worldview not based on the God of Scripture cannot ultimately hold together. In Jesus, the creator and sustainer of all things, is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is important to make sure Christ is the rock upon which we stand in all matters of truth as well.
It is also very clear that the answers to these questions determine our behavior and choices in all of life. The first basic decision is “What will be my worldview?” Spend some time this week thinking about areas where perhaps your worldview needs adjusted in order for life to have the results for which you dream.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8