Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Perfect Filter

My brother is a huge fan of tea. I mean I guess that's cool and all, but that isn't really "my cup of tea," if you know what I mean. (I get the "punniness" from my dad. It's a gift, really.)

His passion for tea goes way outside those white little pouches. Trust me when I say that my brother gets loose when it comes to tea. That is to say, loose tea leaves. (Eh? Eh? No? Ok...) He buys the dried leaves, mixes them, and comes up with his own brews, incorporating spices and the like. It's his specialTEA. (Ok, maybe that one was a little too much...)

Well, as one who is so knowledgeable about tea my brother had to find a new way to filter his brews, since there were no longer any little bags to aid the process. He tried a variety of different things, but it turns out that the ultimate solution came in the form of the perfect tea maker as a gift from my aunt.

Ultimately, I'm glad he found a solution to his filtration woes, and it gets me to thinkin': what kind of filters are we using in our lives?

What I'm referring to is a world-view, and the fact is that everyone has one. There is not a single rationally-thinking person on God's green earth that doesn't have a filter, or a lens through which he sees everything. This means that everyone has a set of values and beliefs when it comes to how we look at and experience the world around us.

Simply put, a world-view is a set of beliefs through which we look at things. For example, if we look at the recent scandal with Schwarzenegger, our world-view is what will make us decide whether Arnold made a bad choice, or a good one, or if he was simply human.

That being said, there abound many world-views and sub-world-views, many of which are not accurate and ultimately lead to the destruction of the human soul. I'll list out a couple, and for brevity's sake, try to address each one of them in a single, direct manner. (Side note: These world-views are paraphrases of some ideas from a sermon by Matt Chandler.)

1. One of the most popular world-views is the concentration on self. This means that a person believes that he will reach the pinnacle of human existence once he has worked out enough, made enough money, had enough sex, etc. He thinks that he will be satisfied when all of his goals and dreams for self-fulfillment are met. And most of the world follows this view. How do we know this? The largest section in Barnes&Noble is the self-help section.

2. Another way of looking at the world is through the glasses of finding fulfillment in a relationship. These types of people are always looking out for "the one," and they believe that once they find this mythical figure, all of life's problems will be fixed.

3. Yet another type of view is the "I'll-live-my-life-vicariously-through-my-kids" view. Those who buy into this way of thinking generally see all of their hopes, dreams, and goals built up in their children. They invest all that they have for the success of the child and obsess over their lives.

4. A very popular lens for those who go to church is the idea that we can be saved by our own external actions. Those who follow this view are often unaware that they aren't really following Christ, and their lives are characterized by periods of strength when they are "following all the rules" and periods of extreme weakness and darkness when they can't seem to get their lives "straight."

These are just some of the world-views that exist, and there are way too many to cover in such a limited medium. But if I can get one thing straight, it is this:

All of these world-views make gods out of people and things that can never bear the weight of such a responsibility.

When all of your desires for eternal satisfaction are laid up in non-infinite, limited beings and objects, then you will be sorely disappointed when those things never measure up to what you had always hoped for these things.

Trusting in yourself will ultimately lead to sore disappointment when you realize that, even when you have met and even exceeded all of your goals, they will never be enough to satisfy you.
The loved one who you believed would fulfill all of your desires will eventually be found to be imperfect and just as messed up as you are.
The fulfillment you hoped to find in your children will be dashed when you find that they could never measure up to your unreal expectations for their lives.
Your rule-following will lead to a life of seasons of very, very painful periods of weakness when you realize that the law is too large of a burden to carry.

And all of us, including me, often let semblances and traces of these world-views seep into our minds, even if only to a small extent. However, I assure you that that is just as much sin as buying into it whole-heartedly.
'Cuz let's be honest. If I play on a baseball team, everybody would think I'm nuts if, during the middle of a game, I got up from my position on the field and started playing for the other team.

If then, we are expected to only play on one team in something as earthly as sports, how could we dare think that we can play on two teams in our faith!?

The only solitary, real filter we have any hope in is that of putting Christ first in everything.

If theres one thing I'm sure of, it is that the Bible has clearly pointed to these ideas millennia before I got to understanding them. Even the idea of world-views is challenged in Romans 12, when we are commanded, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Emphasis added.)

Jeremiah 17:10 says, "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." (Emphasis added.)

In other words, when we are examined and found to be putting Christ first in everything we do, we will be rewarded with joy, peace, and hope. (Romans 15:13)

So I encourage you with these words to get the right filter, and play on one team.


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