Centered: Week 1
LEADER READ: This week officially marks the start of our long anticipated CENTERED Series! If this is the first you are hearing about it, that’s ok, we will get you up to speed quickly. The CENTERED Series is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. If you don’t know what a worldview is, we are simply defining it as… “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.”
Each week we are going to discuss one of those “most important and meaningful questions” and compare the Christian Worldview’s answer and a number of other worldviews answer to that question. This week, instead of focusing on one major question, we are simply setting the table for the series by discussing the nature of belief.
Begin by reading Colossians 1:15-20 (we will read this each week) and then watch short film.
“15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
- If someone you know from work told you that a UFO beamed their dog up last night, would you believe them? What would they have to do or say to convince you that their story was true? Or…could nothing convince you?
- In general, why do you think we believe the things we do? How do we come to believe something?
LEADER NOTE: If your group need help getting started, some potential answers include…we believe things we find reasonable, we see evidence for, we have experience of, someone we trust has told us.
EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW
LEADER READ: One important thing to note moving forward is that EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW. You may be thinking, “I didn’t even know what a worldview was until 5 minutes ago, I don’t have a worldview.” However, whether we can articulate it or not…we all have a way we answer the most important and meaningful questions of life.”
Worldviews can be held…
- Consistently or inconsistently
- Consciously or unconsciously
- True, partially true, or entirely false
A FISH STORY—by David Foster Wallace
LEADER READ: There were two young fish swimming along when they happened to meet a wise old fish swimming the other way. The old fish nods at the younger fish and says, ‘Morning boys, how’s the water?’ The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and says, ‘What the heck is water?”
- How do you think this story fits into the conversation about worldview?
(LEADER NOTE: Worldviews are often unconscious, yet we are surrounded by it, influenced by it, and see and live everything else through it)
- Do you identify more with the old fish (you are very conscious of the worldview you are trying to live out of) or the young fish (your just swimming)
- Give me an example of what it looks to live out a worldview inconsistently. For instance, how might a Christian to be living out a worldview inconsistently?
- One way to process the idea of inconsistency is to answer the following question…Do you think you can believe one set of beliefs in your mind…but embody/inhabit a different set of beliefs in your actions? If so, which is your true belief?
LEADER READ: Many argue that the reason so many of us live out our worldview unconsciously and inconsistently is that we no longer take time for reflection. This is not new. All the way back in 1654, mathematician, physicist, and theologian Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
- Do you think that is true? If so, why do we struggle with it?
- What would it take to become people who were comfortable with it?
YOUR CHOICE: REFLECTION OR ELECTROCUTION
LEADER READ: In 2014, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted an experiment with this exact dilemma in mind. Here’s what they did…
Researchers gathered a group of people. One at a time, they took them into a room with extremely low stimuli. The walls were white. There was only one chair in the room. No clocks on the wall, no paintings on the wall. Then, they took all of the subjects phones, keys, electronics, etc…anything that could engage them.
The challenge…sit for 20 minutes in the chair, without falling asleep, with only your thoughts. The researchers told subjects to simply relax and enjoy themselves.
There was however, one major twist. In this room, there was one button. If you pushed this button, you would receive a painful electric shock.
Just to remove the possible motivation of curiosity, the researchers had the subjects push this button and receive the shock before the experiment began. In fact, after the subjects received the shock, the researchers asked the subjects if they would “pay money to avoid being shocked again?” To which ALL of the subjects answered yes.
So…the experiment begins. 20 minutes with nothing but your own thoughts…or…push a button and receive a painful shock to stimulate you.
There was a very different response between men and women. 25% of women pushed the button.
- What percentage of men do you think pushed the button? Leader answer: 75%
- How do you think you would handle this experiment? Would you push the button?
- What does the Blaise Pascal’s quote and this experiment illustrate about the human experience in relation to the issue of living out a conscious and consistent worldview?
- In today’s culture, what are the biggest barriers to self-reflection? What would it take to overcome those barriers? AND…does it even seem worth it?
One of the things we want to do with the CENTERED Series is provide space and give you a grid to think through and process your own beliefs about the most important and meaningful questions of life. We hope that this grid will also help you process the cultural worldview claims we encounter on a regular basis and help you feel confident engaging in meaningful conversations with others.
Each week, we will examine one of the following worldview questions…
- Where did it all come from?
- Who are we? Why are we here?
- What’s wrong with the world?
- What’s the cure for what is wrong?
- Is there hope?
We will filter that question through the following grid.
- CLAIMS– How does each worldview answer the question? What claims does it make?
- REASONS– What are the reasons each worldview makes such a claim? This will also include looking at the evidence surrounding the claim.
- IMPLICATIONS– Think of the word “IF.” IF this claim is true, what does that mean.
Have someone read 1 Corinthians 15:12-14
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Q- What is Paul saying here and how does it relation to the topic of implications?
LEADER READ: Another good example of considering the implications is found in an interview titled, “Why Are We Here,” where Duke University professor, Alex Rosenberg shares the implications of his view, commonly described as scientism…that science can explain everything. When asked about his answer to a number of major questions, he quickly listed off his answers saying…
“So, is there a God? Of course not. What is the meaning of the universe? It doesn’t have any. What is the purpose of life? Ditto. Is there a difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There’s not a moral difference between them. What is the nature of the relationship between the mind and the brain? They’re identical. The mind is the brain. Is there free will? Not a chance. Do the lessons of the past have any particular bearing that would help us cope with the future? Less and less, if it ever had any at all.”
Regardless of what you think about his answers, this is a great example of a person who has actually thought through the implications of their belief. Which is one of the things we will process each week.
- ACTIONS—In light of the claim, reasons, and implications…how should it transform my heart? How should I live? What actions should I take?
GROUP ACTIVITY—WORLDVIEW ANALYSIS
LEADER READ: Christianity, like all religions, is not only a religion…it is also a worldview. They are not separated from reality; they are making claims about what reality consists of. To be viable, they all have to address the most important and meaningful questions of life. When we look at Scripture, the verses are not just some nice sayings about God…they are often actually informing us to the way we should view the world. The vision of life we should pursue.
- Break off into smaller groups of 3-4 (or you could choose to do as one large group)
- In your groups read Colossians 1:15-20
- As a group, make a list of claims this text makes about reality? What truth claims is it making?
- What are the implications of such claims?
- If the claims are true, what actions should it inspire?
- Come back together and share.
LEADER READ: Even though Blaise Pascal and the University of Virginia Experiment illustrate just how hard it is to sit quietly with our minds, both Scripture and the spiritual masters throughout history see quiet reflection and contemplation as vital for a follower of Jesus. In light of that…
- Find some space for self-reflection this week. Even if you only have 5-10 minutes, journal your thoughts on next weeks worldview question…Where did it all come from? Ask yourself these questions…
- What do I believe (at least in my mind) about the origin of life?
- How do I think the Christian Worldview would answer the question
- What are my hang-ups/doubts about the Christian Worldview’s explanation?
- How would/should it effect my view of the world and my actions if there really is a God that created the world and cares about the people in it?
- Offer your reflections to God in prayer
Pray as you see fit.
BONUS QUESTION (If you have extra time)
- Reflect on the following quote. How does it speak to worldview?
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
– C. S. Lewis