The first part of the book sets the stage, depicting our fallen world, under the influence of the enemy and the constant bombardment of his lies. Contrasted against this backdrop is the only road providing safe passage (and permitting us to not only survive, but enabling us to thrive!), living daily with a Biblical worldview that yields a life of love and significance.
To that end, the first chapter shows how our choices play a central role in the unfolding drama of our lives. It is entitled “You Become the Choices You Make” and begins with the wonderful anonymously attributed epigraph: “There is freedom in choice, but not in consequences.” Doesn’t that sum up in a terrible, wonderful, pithy way my own experience!
As travelers on the Way, we’ve all heard the standard advice: read your Bible, say your prayers, attend church services, stop doing certain things, start doing other things. And we’ve for the most part had the same results by following this prescription: consistent, repeated, utter failure. No matter how hard we try, we do not seem to be able to alter our behavior by focusing all of our attention on it. It is a contest of my spirit against my ingrained sinful habits, and I find the path of least so well trod as to be insurmountable. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” For many, this is where they say, “I tried Christianity, and it didn’t work.” Those who press on find themselves enslaved to a laborious, grinding, life-stealing duty. Those who seek help in the matter often receive the counsel to “try harder!”.
Is this the freedom Christ promised us? No! This is a diabolical (and that word was carefully chosen) lie and not true Christianity at all. The lie that we have been told too often and too often believed is that if we want to change, it’s up to us. And if we fail, we must simply try harder. In other words, if we want to change our behavior, we must focus on our behavior.
The truth is that doing “Christian activities” as the first and foremost means to achieving the end of righteous living does not and will not ever work. It is like building a house by starting with the windows, siding, and gutters, before a foundation has been laid or supporting walls have been built. It simply cannot hold up.
Instead, Scripture gives us the place to start: With the completed work of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 4:3-5, 16-25). He has saved us completely, and set us free (John 8:31-38; Galatians 5:1). By believing this truth, we are in Him a new creation and already seated with him in righteousness (Ephesians 2:4-9). The work is done, and there is nothing else to do for us to be secure in Him. Our only work is to believe (John 6:28-29); all the rest can and must flow from that bedrock.
There is much more to say about this as we progress through the book, but the point for now is this: A Biblical worldview tells us not only what to think but also how to think. When steeped in the lies and deception of the enemy-occupied territory of this world, it is not only enough to swap out our set of ideas about the world with another, more accurate set that we learn from the pages of Scripture (although this must be done). We must also swap out our very minds for the mind of Christ so that we are able not only to think right thoughts but also to think them rightly (some might even say “righteously”). Only with this renewed mind will we be able to think in a way that lets us make the choices that lead to life and love.
One other point must be made. Having tried on many different modes of thinking over the course of my life, I can affirm the author’s assertion from my own experience: The Biblical worldview is the only one that matches up with our actual reality. As Paul makes abundantly clear in his letter to the church at Rome, as well as others places in the Christian (New) Testament, if our behavior — our ability to obey the Law perfectly — was the standard by which we were judged, we’d all be sunk; none of us can live rightly on our own. This matches up with the truth of my experience. It has veridicality. It is this matching up with our own experience of life that gives us great confidence that the Biblical worldview may actually work in our real lives. We’ll see how it fares as we progress!