Week 3 Recap
We are in week 4 of our CENTERED SERIES, which is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. Remember…our working definition of a worldview is, “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.” Last week we discussed the question, who am I, which the Christ-Centered Worldview answers by claiming we are all made in the image of God and have inherent worth. But that’s not the whole story of humanity. Today we are going to examine the question, “What’s wrong?” Although we will deviate from our normal structure of systematically moving through the grid this week, all four pieces of are there…once again, they are.
- Claims—What are the claims each worldview makes in answering the question
- Reasons—What are the reasons they make such a claim
- Implications—What are the implications in other areas of life if the claim is true…think “IF”……, Then…..
- Actions—What actions should it inspire? How should we live in response?
Easy Intro Question
- When is the first time you consciously remember lying to your parents?
Leader Note: It would be good if you came prepared with your own story for this. For instance, I remember at about 7 years old, trying to jump off of our balcony and land on the couch. I was wildly unsuccessful and ended up in crutches. I told my mom and dad that I fell in a hole outside. I didn’t tell them the truth until after college but always felt bad about it. Feels good to get that off my chest!
Accountability Time—Last week we challenged everyone to get out under the stars and read aloud Psalm 8. Is anyone willing to share from his or her experience? It doesn’t have to be overly spiritual or enlightening…you can even say, “I was just freezing and couldn’t wait to get inside.”
Watch Short Film
- What struck you from the film? Did you find any piece particularly compelling or moving? Did it raise any questions in your mind?
- What are a few different ways that people might answer the question, what’s wrong with the world? What do you think our current culture’s general answer would be?
- What would you say if someone asked you to summarize the Christ-Centered Worldview’s answer to that question?
Leader: While a number of different terms, illustrations and metaphors have been used throughout the history of Christian thought, the answer as stated in the film is,
“God created the world good, he entrusted it to mankind as stewards. Man chooses to reject God’s way of doing things and poison is injected into the entire system.”
- Can you think of any of the Worldviews that we’ve discussed over the last few weeks that would be most likely to deny the fact that there is a problem? Why?
Leader Note: There may be multiple answers here but the naturalist or materialist (especially strict naturalists/materialists) would be likely to claim that since the world is an unguided process of evolution, and there is no ultimate purpose, there really isn’t a problem. In fact, many would claim that humans have no free will anyway, so the world was predetermined to become what it is and what it will be.
Leader– The Christ-Centered Worldview claims that the world is not as it should be…that, to use the words form the film, poison has been injected into the whole system. Let’s explore a few passages from scripture that illustrate the reason why the Christ-Centered Worldview makes such a claim.
Leader Note: Have them break into smaller groups of 3-5, read through the passages, and discuss how each verse supports the Christ-Centered Worldview’s claim of what’s wrong with the world.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
19 For all creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time
Leader: It is somewhat difficult to have a comparative worldview discussion to the larger question of what’s wrong with the world. That’s a pretty big question that doesn’t lend itself to simple answers. Instead, we will shrink it down to the more general idea of right and wrong. While many other worldviews answers would be similar to the Christ-Centered worldview’s general idea that something is off, the conversation gets varied and interesting when we get into the question of right and wrong.
- To begin let’s discuss the following question. Do you think that there is an ACTUAL right and wrong or do you think that throughout history people have just made up the rules/categories of right and wrong?
Leader: Many people in our culture today would claim…and this sneaks into the Christ-Centered Worldview as well…that right and wrong are different for each person. Or, right and wrong are at least different for each culture. These two views are likely the dominant position in our culture today, which makes them worth exploring. (You can break down into smaller groups for this discussion if it would be beneficial)
The first position is…
Individual Moral Relativism—Individual moral relativism argues that belief that right and wrong change from person to person.
- According to IMR, morality (right and wrong) is up for each person to decide.
- There are no universal moral truths…that is…there is no right or wrong that is true for everyone at all times.
- Can anyone think of an example of a time or situation that they have heard this view expressed?
Leader: A simple illustration of this idea might be littering. I believe that littering is wrong, my friend believes that littering is ok. We are both right, or at least, neither of us is wrong.
Cultural Moral Relativism—The belief that right and wrong change from culture to culture.
- There are no moral standards true for everyone.
- Culture determines what is right for everyone who lives in the culture.
- Can anyone think of an example of cultural moral relativism?
Leader: Again, a overly simple illustration of this idea is that some cultures think women should have to cover their head, some cultures do not. Neither culture is right or wrong, it is theirs to decide. This is obviously a lighter example than what could be made.
Leader Transition: Here is what is difficult about this issue. We are all compassionate and loving people who look at the definitions of individual and cultural moral relativism and think, “that sounds right. I don’t want to tell other people what is right and wrong for their life.” That comes from a good place…but let’s look at whether or not those views actually match up with reality and our lived experience by doing a thought experiment around the implications…
Example 1: Modern-Day Slavery
Leader: On the video, you heard that modern-day slavery is a $150 BILLION dollar a year industry—40.3 million individuals are currently caught in the salve trade and 1 out of 4 of those is a child.
- What do you think of when you hear that?
- Do you think it is ok for some countries/cultures to engage in slavery if it’s agreed upon by a majority?
- Is the “wrongness” of slavery a personal opinion? Asked another way…if you think that selling slave trade is wrong, but your best friend thinks it’s no big deal…are you both right?
- What would the individual moral relativist have to answer? How would the cultural moral relativist have to answer? How would they defend it?
Example 2: WWII History
Leader: Here’s another example from history which you may all know well.
- In 1933, a man named Hitler was appointed head of the German State
- Hitler (along with his party) believed that there were hierarchies of different races…some were superior and some were inferior.
- Not only that…he also worked to eliminate all disabled people, homosexuals, and other minorities that didn’t fit into his idea of the Aryan Race.
- From 1941-1945, Hitler and the Nazi party systematically killed 6 million Jews; an estimated 1 million of them were children.
Now here’s the question…
- Is this (racism, murder, torture, etc) wrong for all people in all cultures, at all times? If so, why? What has to be true?
- That leads to the next big question…if we all sense that the answer is that Hitler’s actions were wrong for all people, in all cultures, at all times…who declares or decides such a thing is wrong? Who makes the call on right and wrong?
Leader: Remember…Hitler had the majority with him. He was not acting alone so it the answer can’t be majority.
- If an individual or cultural moral relativist (which is what many in our culture…believers included…seem to be) is actually living out there beliefs consistently…what would they have to say about modern-day slavery or the holocaust?
- If they came back and said, “well everyone just instinctively knows that’s wrong” (which obviously isn’t true based on the slave trades 150 billion/year) how do we know? Who decided that for us?
Leader: This is where the Christ-Centered Worldview is vastly different than individual and cultural moral relativism. TheChrist-Centered Worldview claims that there are at least some things that are right and wrong for everyone at all times.
For Christians, rather than individual preference or cultural majority, right and wrong are determined by God.
- In an over-simplified sense, right is when reality (and our actions) align with the characteristics of God (love, truth, goodness, etc).
- Wrong is when reality (and our actions) don’t align with the characteristics of God.
- Our morals are determined by who God is and we find the clearest picture of that in scripture…most completely in the life of Jesus.
Leader: Not only does scripture help us understand what is wrong, it also shows us what is right…what to pursue instead. It lays out what it looks like to live out God’s vision for life.
GROUP ACTIVITY—In groups of 3-5, read Romans 12:9-21 and form a list of what it looks like to live to the full in God’s vision of life.
- This week’s practice is called “Sitting In Your Sin Before God.”
- Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- We know that there is a problem in the world, and a problem within our own hearts. When responding to the question, what is the problem in the world, theologian G.K. Chesterton simply said, I am. Often, we try to cover over our sin, explain away our sin, or qualify it.
- The Practice of “Sitting In Your Sin Before God” stands in opposition of that.
- What you do
- Find a quiet time and space
- Hold your sin up before God in your mind’s eye…all of your failures to love, all of the mistakes you have made, all of the things that have come out of your mouth to hurt others…hold it before God without qualification, without false promises to change, without excuse or blame-shifting…simply exposed.
- Hold all of that before God, and then simply take in his love. For while we were sinners, Christ died for us.
- Set all of you are before God and sit in the love of God as you are…not as you should be.
- Let that love transform your heart.