For the week of October 9, 2010 / 1 Heshvan 5771
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 6:9 - 11:32 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed. (Bereshit / Genesis 9:18, 19; ESV)
Most of the time we don't notice how we look at life. Day by day, we don't normally notice that we relate to ourselves and to others, to situations and to the world based on a set of assumptions and beliefs called a world view. It's our world view that defines for us what our purpose of living is or whether or not we believe that life has a purpose at all. It defines what we expect of ourselves and others, right and wrong, guilt and shame. It defines success and failure. It controls how we look at history and at the future. And, of course, it determines whether or not we believe in God and spiritual things and how to relate to them if we do.
Few people purposely develop their world view. Most of us learn to look at life from those around us. This may be fueled by our families, teachers, and popular culture. There are exceptions, for there are people who after discovering issues or weaknesses in the world view of their upbringing or peers, go out of their way to embrace ways of looking at life that are not so common. We are all probably aware of people whose world view stands out as different from other people we know. You might be one of those people. I think I am one of those people.
As a person committed to follow the teachings of the Bible I believe that my world view is quite different from those of many of the people around me. Some of those differences are obvious. I believe in God, not just any old generic god, but in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah and that both the Old and New Covenant Scriptures form the Bible. I also try to hold to a biblical understanding of morality, history, the future and other aspects of life.
That said, I get surprised when I discover that there are still so many ways in which I see the world that are based more on what I have somehow picked up from my upbringing or popular thinking than what the Bible teaches. It's not that I think that I understand the Bible perfectly or that I have a complete grasp on how to apply the Bible's teaching to every aspect of life. In fact, I guess it's partly my conviction that I still have so much to learn that keeps me humble enough see when the truth of Scripture differs from my assumptions.
An author who has helped me to realize that I hold to far more of these assumptions than I thought I did is G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936). After hearing about him for a long time, I finally have read a couple of his more popular books: "Orthodoxy" (1908 - http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/130) and "Heretics" (1905 - http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/470). In these two books, he effectively exposes ways of thinking that most of us take for granted as the way the world is, but are actually concoctions of human imagination.
For example, in "Heretics" there is an essay entitled, "Celts and Celtophiles", where he criticizes the concept of race. Chesterton writes, "And of all the forms in which science, or pseudo-science, has come to the rescue of the rich and stupid, there is none so singular as the singular invention of the theory of races." Now maybe you already knew this, but I didn't know that the concept of human beings being divided into racial groups is an invention of the nineteenth century. If you don't believe me, look it up. It's not just Chesterton's opinion that nations exist, but races don't.
If we believe the Bible we should have already known this. We are all descended from Noah and his wife. Treating Noah's three sons as if they are the progenitors of three distinct races, makes no sense biblically, but rather is a case of accommodating the Bible to nineteen-century, evolutionary, pseudo science.
According to the Bible, there is only one race, the human race. Even if you don't believe the Bible, it is undisputed that the genetic makeup of all human beings is such that we are all of one kind. There are no distinct and separate races among humans. Our outward physical differences have only to do with a type of inbreeding that has occurred due to migration. And yet most people today, Bible believers included, have bought into the lie of looking at others through a racial lens - a lens which has created all sorts of havoc in the last century or so.
A biblical world view demands that we see all people, whoever they are, wherever they are from, whatever they look like, as just people. Whatever differences do exist among us, we will never see others the way we should until we see them for who they really are: people made in the image of God.
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