Reality Disjuncture

Out of reality 2002Have you ever felt the seeming disjuncture between life and religion?  Do the things of life seem more real than the stogy preacher and the dusty pages of Bible?  Are you able to concentrate on friends, fun activities, and food more easily than the Word of God, the commandments of God, and attention to a holy lifestyle?

I recently took the youth of my church to a large conference in our area where we had lots of fun.  The van ride was killer, we made a Harlem Shake video, listened to our favorite tunes, discussed the things of life, and made faces at the passers by.  The conference was a ski retreat so we spent one day skiing.  It was the perfect ski day, sun was out, temp was right, everybody had a great time, and nobody broke a leg.  And who can forget the time in the hotel, joking, hanging out, laughing, and enjoying life together.

But every evening we were faced with the reality of God’s word.  We would saunter into the church, sing praise tunes, and some of us would listen to the sermon.  Why is it that sometimes the things of God look so weak, so boring, so unreal compared to the vivid things of life?  As Christians we trumpet a message of hope and life and yet many times people perceive it as death.

We know that we serve and invisible God.  Paul witnesses to this fact in 1 Timothy 1:17 calling God “the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God.”  Paul further testifies to the fact in Romans 1:20 that this invisible God’s attributes can be known from what is made in the world.  The Bible continually testifies to two realms of reality, one known and perceived on a daily basis and another hinted at by the world that surrounds us, a greater realm, a spiritual kingdom that sits over, above, and in control of this world.  And yet we are left to ponder the gap.  When we are enjoying the good things of this life the larger other reality seems to fad to the wayside, an afterthought, which makes good late night pondering.  Sometimes this other reality forces it way into our average lives through inexplicable events, or tragedies that make us consider our final destination. 

So how can we bridge these seemingly disjointed realities together? How can we perceive the reality of this life set within the backdrop of true reality that includes the rule and authority of an invisible God?  It is by faith in the person of Jesus Christ.  In Colossians 1:15 Paul tells us that Christ is the image of this invisible God.  In the person of Christ the beauty of the Christian doctrine of revelation shines forth.  God came from outside of what we know as reality to within our daily reality to make the truth of His spiritual kingdom known.  Romans chapter 1:1-32 makes it very clear that it is possible for man to perceive God, because God has made himself known to every man, yet we have suppressed the truth about God and chose rather to indulge in and serve the things we can see in this world, and the scary part to this equation is that God has given us exactly what we wanted; a life apart from Him.  When we feel the disparity between the things of life and things of God, the Bible points to a problem in us that suppresses the truth about what can be known about God.  I would venture to guess many of us have spent too much time in a pattern after the world and it has clouded our vision of true reality.

But God, through the revelation and appearing of Christ “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).  The affect of this revelation in our hearts is as Peter says, “though [we] have not seen Him, [we] love Him.  Though [we] do not now see Him, [we] believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).  Because of the appearing of Christ in the world and His work the truth about all things has been revealed.  God testifies in our hearts through His spirit that Jesus is the Son of God and so we believe in Him because of the gift of faith as described in Ephesians 2:8-9.  We then like Moses in Hebrews 11:27 are able to carry on daily life in faith “as seeing Him who is invisible.”  We begin living under and in the true reality of God’s kingdom.

And so we suffer in this life facing a disjuncture that is only all too real.  Because we have chosen to embrace the revelation of God in Christ, we stand apart from the world that has decided to suppress this same revelation.  As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “we walk by faith and not sight.”  In this way we suffer like Christ and begin to live this life striving do the will of God over and above the will of our flesh and amidst the debauchery of our culture (1 Peter 4:1-5).

Finally let us look forward to the day when our faith and this perceived disjuncture will once and for all be settled by the sight of our coming Lord and Savior.  And in that day we will be like Him, living in true reality (1 John 3:2).  This has and continues to be the hope of the saints in the face of our daily reality.
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