How does a society’s worldview and/or religious beliefs affect development?

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Reflection: The Gospel and Development: Thoughts Shape Societies

Stephen lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and serves as country coordinator for Harvest Foundation and area coordinator for CMS-Africa. He received his education through University of the Nations.

Stephen lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and serves as country coordinator for Harvest Foundation and area coordinator for CMS-Africa. He received his education through University of the Nations.

WCIU Journal: Worldview Topic

February 26, 2019

by Stephen Mosheni

The good news about Jesus has been preached in most parts of Africa just as it was in Europe. In Europe the gospel had much impact in all spheres of life. But today most of Europe is is shifting very fast toward beliefs that have less meaning in life. Materialism has taken a stronghold of the people in society as well as in the church.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been on the receiving end of the gospel for more than two centuries. But many came to the faith based on the fear of being banished by God. This was good to certain extent, but many never experienced transformed lives. We have had many Christian workers and organizations, but with little impact other than getting people excited. This can be compared to boiling milk on the stove. Boiling milk makes it foam, but once you put it back on the stove it does not make foam again. The gospel has not transformed the African mindset apart from exciting the mind with the prosperity gospel and feel-good preaching. The Church has been growing very fast in Africa and with a lot of buildings coming up. Many institutions have been built to attract Christians who are given priority for the services. This is a manipulative gospel which is still going on.

However, at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, things started to change. The approach of having “the whole gospel for the whole person and to the whole world” is now taking root. Discipleship that demonstrates word and deed is making sense once more. Jesus Christ is visible. Different movements like Harvest Foundation, Disciple Nations Alliance, CMS-Africa, Care of Creation, and many others have developed tools that are preparing Christians with tools to expose false cultural principles and to discover God’s vision for their lives, communities, and nation.

In the familiar story of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus transformed the word “neighbor” from a noun to verb. Jesus wants to bring about a paradigm shift for those who hear it. He wants us move from “knowing” the truth to “doing” the truth. He wants us to see that word “neighbor” is not to be used academically as noun but practically as a verb: “to neighbor.” The question we must face is not “who is my neighbor?” but ‘”will I neighbor those in need?” Jesus is saying, “if you want to inherit eternal life, love God and demonstrate your love for God by loving your neighbor—acting neighborly to those in need.

Addressing worldviews of various cultures and traditions is paramount to let them know and discover for themselves where they came from, who they are, why they are here, for what, and then, what next. A worldview is like a pair of glasses. It determines what we see, not what there is to be seen. Many of us wear glasses. What happens when you take them off? The world looks a little different. Worldview is like set of glasses for the mind. Everyone has these glasses on their mind and the lenses in them have been set by culture and tradition.

We all have a worldview, a framework by which we interpret reality. “Ideas have consequences” says the title of a book by Richard Weaver. “As a man thinks, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). These sayings reflect the truth that a people’s beliefs have an impact on their behavior, which in turn brings forth consequences either positive or negative in their lives. The biblical worldview can transform individual lives and entire nations. Conversely, lies, a false worldview, and its assumptions lead to poverty, brokenness, destruction, and lack of development.

We therefore, need holistic ministry referring to a balanced and integral ministry to the physical, spiritual, social, and wisdom needs of the community in which is situated. This is a lifestyle of love (Matthew 22:37-38).