The Bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This view of life doesn’t jive very well with the wisdom of the world. Let’s unpack some popular worldviews that society pushes on us.
Don’t share your lunch. This is what my parents told me before going to kindergarten. In other words, be selfish. The kid next to you might have forgotten his lunch and he might be starving, but hey, that’s not your problem.
Don’t talk to strangers. In other words, don’t trust anyone. This world is a scary place.
Nike, Just do it. In other words, get off the couch and run.
Gatorade, Is it in you? In other words, you can drink this artificially colored liquid and you could pretend to be Kobe Bryant, but we all know you’re you, Kobe is Kobe and you are just drinking sugar water.
Army, Be all you can be. If you are not one of those super patriotic types and you don’t know what you want to be and you’re directionless, then come to the army and we’ll show you what you can become.
What is Apple’s worldview? This device is cool and sleek and everyone who has them lives in a technicolor world where there is dancing and joy and you guys who don’t have it are living a dreary black and white reality.
What was Apostle Paul’s worldview? There are many things you could say about Paul and his worldview, but I have boiled it down to two things.
1) Paul had his eyes fixed on Christ and a heavenly prize
2) And simultaneously, Paul had his eyes fixed on people
This is what got Paul out of bed every morning.
I don’t think of those 2 points as being separate. Paul shares that his eyes were fixed on Christ and a heavenly prize, but when you read about how Paul lived in Acts, he seemed to be all about people. And there seems to be constant tension that Paul always felt illustrating that these 2 principles cannot be so easily parsed one from another. These two points — focusing on God and a heavenly prize followed by a life of service to others are closely intertwined. Sounds very much like loving God and loving neighbor.
One of the best passages to illustrate Paul’s focus on God and a heavenly prize can be found in Phil 3:7-14.
Phil 3:7-8, 12-14 – 7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I want to briefly point out that Christ and the prize are two separate things. We tend to blur the two and say that Christ and the prize are the same thing, and we assume that Christ is the prize, and he is. But there is a distinction here that Paul makes between the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and the prize awarded to those who faithfully complete the race. He is focused on Christ but the prize is something distinctly separate that he receives when he gets to heaven. In other places, Paul refers to this prize as a crown. We’ll save that for another message. In any case, for Paul, the accent here is on knowing Christ. Everything else he calls rubbish.
Another passage that I’ll read is 1 Cor 9:24-27.
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
We see from these 2 passages how, on one hand, Paul is focusing on Christ and like an athlete competing for the Olympic games, Paul goes into strict training, he beats his body for the purpose of gaining a crown that will last forever. So this covers the first part of Paul’s worldview — the importance of striving after Christ and the crown.
On the other hand, Paul lived his life in service to others. It doesn’t matter who is in front of him, whether it’s a Jewish rabbi who hangs everything on the law, or a Gentile who could care less about the law, to a Roman official who thinks he has the power to make the law or a demon-possessed slave girl who is completely lawless, Paul used all possible means to save as many as he could.
Next time, we will look into unpacking Paul’s worldview further.