- David Defries
A Paradigm of Thought
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)
I’ve been contemplating lately how to explain Christianity to people who ask about it. Most assume that it’s just another religion, one of the many that are out there. If I’m to be fair, I’m sure that a lot of Christians and a lot of churches have presented it as such, much to my chagrin. The crux for me is that a religion implies a belief structure that you have to conform to. It’s not that Christianity doesn’t have a set of beliefs; of course it does! There are certain pivotal beliefs which it is absolutely structured around, such as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means. The problem is that it isn’t just a set of beliefs… it’s more like a paradigm of thought.
What I mean by this is that Christianity is more like a way of thinking about the fundamentals in life… who God is, how our universe came into being, who God created us to be, what the purpose of our existence is. For instance, the Bible outlines that God is good. That His primary heart towards humanity is that of a loving Father. He is the personification of love and that dictates His relationship towards us. So, for instance, when we think about God as someone who is vengeful, ready to smite, harsh in criticism, we’re actually misrepresenting the truth about who God is. We’re thinking from the wrong paradigm of thought.
(As an aside, there are many other aspects of God’s personality as well, so don’t take a lopsided understanding from what I wrote above. If you interpret an action of God as not loving, understand that there might be another side of His personality at play such as justice or truth. Much of our paradigms of understanding need to be held in tension with other truths.)
You see, we have a tendency to view God, or who we are, through our own lens of what our family looked like. If our growing up was dysfunctional (and let’s be honest, this is probably most of us) then this has consequences for how we interpret God. If our father was absent, we tend to view God as absent. If we were constantly criticized or told we were worthless, then we tend to have a low view of other people, thinking them stupid or contemptable.
Fortunately truth is not subjective to our own individual experience. Christianity explains truth in terms of relationship with God and as something permanent to be grasped. One of God’s primary stated goals is to lead us into truth. He wants us to think in the proper paradigm, understanding who we are, who He is, and apply that truth to every aspect of our lives thereby living the fullest life that we were designed to live.
This is a freeing thought. Christianity is not about a box that you need to conform to. It’s not a list of dos and don’ts that are impossible to do. It’s more about discovering truth and working it out in our daily lives.
I’ve seen these truths completely change my life time and time again. It’s transformed my marriage from a destructive pull of each of us trying to get our way to a place of genuine love and desire for care and understanding. (isn’t that what each of us is truly hoping for out of relationship?) This paradigm of thought has changed my emotional life from one constantly full of depression and anxiety to one that is generally at peace, fulfilled, and full of joy. I’m not saying life is perfect, it’s absolutely got a lot of difficulties still in it. I’m a work in progress. However, the more that I understand and apply the truth to my life, the better every aspect of it gets. This paradigm helps me to process emotions, deal with difficult situations, cultivate lasting relationships, and live a life of purpose. I’m not drifting through life hoping to lessen the pain or just trying to make it as comfortable as possible. I have a mission to love on people just as God does and to introduce them to the same paradigm of truth that has changed me through and through. It’s emboldening, powerful, freeing, and it’s free to everyone.
If you want to know more or if you have questions about this or anything else related to truth, life, and spirituality, please reach out to us at email@example.com or 403-660-0860. This is just the start of the conversation. There’s a whole lifetime in front of us to explore these concepts together and figure how to work them out in real life.