Ever heard someone say “it’s time to face reality?” What they usually mean is “stop living in this fantasy world where everything works out perfectly and you don’t have to do anything to make it happen” or “get in touch with how crappy life really is!” Lately, I’ve been thinking about reality…
Reality is the world is broken, nasty, and filled with pain.
Yet, reality is that hope and love are abstract forces that fuel the human race to overcome brokenness, nastiness and pain.
Reality is loved ones die, and it breaks our hearts.
Yet, reality is that our broken hearts, that ache we feel, inherently points us toward a knowledge that something is wrong about death. This abstract concept of eternity, and unending relationship with others burns within our hearts.
Reality is that today, “sinners” are turned off to God by “Christian people,” because the Christian church is filled with corruption, deception, hypocrisy, and judgement.
Yet, reality is that the Jesus that all Christian churches claim to follow was none of those things.
We talk about “reality” and “being realistic,” but I think there’s more to it. The concreteness of pain makes it hard to believe in things like hope, love, and Jesus. Losing a loved one to cancer or an unexpected accident makes us doubt if there is a good God with a plan, or if He cares at all… The concrete world around us, the most tangible things we know, the things we tend to experience the most, make life worse. “Facing reality” is a terrible thing…
Unless you look behind the “concrete.” Pain hurts, but it only hurts to let us know that something is wrong. There is a higher, maybe even more real reality happening all around us, just hidden from view, all the time. So, what if we began to live there?
What would happen if those abstract realities behind this one became the “taste of reality” that we experienced all the time? What would that look like? How would it make us feel? How would we make others feel? It would be like living in a whole different realm, while at the same time, interacting with this one. It would be like pulling off the filthy rags draped over the barren desert of life to reveal the oasis of Eden underneath. It might look a lot like what Jesus called the Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
I’ve watched two great super-hero movies recently: The Dark Knight and The Avengers. I highly recommend them. In each movie, there is a moment where a main character makes a choice to inspire hope and life in the world, yet in both cases, the “hero” lies to make this happen. In The Dark Knight, they pretend that a good man did not turn bad so that the people will still believe in good men. In The Avengers (don’t worry, no spoilers), they twist a story to make it more emotionally impactful so the heroes will find the motivation to work together. They inspire people to pursue the higher reality by lying about this one! Am I the only one who sees something wrong here?
Jesus came to bring life that you can pick up and throw. He came to bring healing that sneaks up out of nowhere and smacks you in the face. He came to bring love like a fire hydrant blasting you over and drenching you to the core. He came to drive hope through you til you burst with Heaven’s light. He came to aboslutely, positively, overpower your “taste of reality” with a mouthful of Heaven. The problem with Hollywood is it knows this higher reality is real, and it knows that this reality is the point, but without Jesus, there is not enough substance to get us there. So they say you have to lie, twist, and stretch the truth to make it reach the good that you cannot attain by simply being honest. Lies are not meant to prop truth up in its place.
But here’s the real kicker: We as Christians do the same thing.
We sell what we haven’t tasted. We know those higher things are the point, but we twist and stretch what our actual experience is so we can get people to the good we know they should attain. We’ve believed this lie that the Kingdom of Heaven is less real than our current reality, not real enough to overpower the world around us. We’ve bought into the perversion of calling what’s wrong in life reality, instead of recognizing that even our knowledge that it is wrong is only proving that there is a right that all humanity is seeking.
We’ve lowered the kingdom of God to some form of magic that we don’t know the secrets to yet. It’s like God is the shy magician that only works his magic when no one is paying attention.We think prayer would work– if we could convince God just the right way then “poof!” magically better! Then, even when he does do something, we have this voice in the back of our mind saying “gee, I sure hope that was real magic, not just smoke and mirrors. I could use some real magic from this God, because things are hard. Please let that be real.” Looking back on it, we wonder if it was a one time show, or if he will ever be gracious enough to work his magic again.
I’ve seen about 6 instant miracles with my own eyes, and I’ll tell you that the most shocking part is how concrete they are, how normal. No fireworks, no voice of God, no angel appearing or room shaking, just something that was off being instantly changed in front of your eyes. A limb just grows out, a muscle just starts regenerating, stuff just happens, and then it’s done. I imagine that was the most shocking thing to the disciples as well. Walking around, handing bread out, realizing “wow, it just keeps multiplying” or watching a crippled man walk and thinking “that was so simple; all he did was stand up!” Honestly, the normalcy of it makes it hard to believe at times. You saw it happen, but yet you always thought it would be a bigger deal, and when it isn’t, you’re shaken up a bit.
But here’s the coolest thing: once you’ve seen it happen a few times, seeing it happen becomes your new normal. It becomes more normal to see miracles than not. Seeing nothing happen becomes strange and hard to believe. Now, if a limb doesn’t grow out when I pray for it, I keep praying, because it doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t grow out. That’s not true reality. Heaven’s reality is more real to me in certain areas than this one, so I live from Heaven and bring it to this less real earth. And, thus far, every person I’ve prayed for has been healed.
We don’t get people to the things like hope and love by denying reality. We get them there by showing them a reality that is more real than their reality. However, we first have to experience that more real reality ourselves. I won’t pretend to have tasted much of it, but I can genuinely say I’ve tasted a little bit. It’s so concrete, so real, that nothing I hear, nothing I see, nothing I encounter in this reality can shake it. All I can say is if you have never tasted that, or you have never seen a miracle with your own eyes, get restless. Don’t settle. Seek real reality. Don’t settle for the brokenness that helps you know there must be more, go get the more. Don’t pretend to have it when you don’t. Don’t sell others magic that is only illusion. If you know it’s not real, so will they.
But once you get a taste of True reality, of God’s real magic, the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s the death, pain and sadness that turn out to be smoke and mirrors. There’s no need to stretch truth; Heaven’s Reality has no artificial flavoring, no additives, and no filler needed. Heaven is reality, this is the illusion.