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Defining Reality

I’ve gone into what is real and what is not before, but I think reality needs to be defined further. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines reality as “The quality or state of being real”. Well, that’s not much help. Real is defined as “not artificial, fraudulent, theory or apparent: genuine.” OK, that’s even more confusing. How do you determine if something is genuine or not? My grandfather gave me a wallet for my sixth birthday. On the inside in small gold letters were the words “made of genuine artificial leather”. In other words, the wallet was made of fake leather. I thought that was hilarious! Real phony leather! I carried that wallet until it fell apart, at which time I found out it was made of plastic-coated cardboard. It only looked like leather for a short time until it wore out. The question here is how do you tell if what you think is real is actually an artificial construction that will hold up forever under examination.

Science says that everything is defined by a theory, and there are no facts. And, a theory is only valid if it has opposing theories. Under science, then, nothing is factually real and the theory of what it is qualifies as valid only if it can be argued against with an opposing theory. I don’t know about you, but that makes no sense to me. How on earth can you and I decide what to base our world view on if reality is only a debatable theory? How can we find a solid, factual foundation on which to build our lives? America’s Funniest Home Videos had a segment which showed the actions of people who had been given “laughing gas” by a doctor or dentist. Many of the peoples’ actions were funny. But one young man, with all the usual inhibitions and preconceptions of the world put into a transparent limbo asked, “What is life?” His mother was in the video with him and she thought the question was funny. People in the AFV audience thought it was funny. But in his state at the time the young man hit upon the most serious question he could have asked. What, indeed, is life? What are we and why are we here?

Most peoples’ concept of reality is based on subjective reactions to their environment, and the “theories” they learned in school, and were taught by their parents. Sometimes this seems to work well, and sometimes it doesn’t. The current popular philosophy of life says it is permissible to do anything you want to do if you harm no one else in the process. This theory implies a personal reality, and every person has a different reality. Prisons are full of people who found out the hard way that their concept of personal reality harmed other people. And, many young people commit suicide because they can’t find any meaning and purpose for their life. And because they can’t find meaning and purpose they believe they have no value. So, if we extend this idea out and follow through with the logic, the question of what is life becomes do you have any value, are you important. If a person has no value or importance there is no motivation or incentive to continue. The feeling of worthlessness is painful. People commit suicide most often to stop the pain of not having a solid reason for existing. The reason for existing gives direction to life, and without direction and motivation there is no reason to go on. So, what works? What works all the time without fail? What gives you a solid foundation on which to build your life and find the value and meaning for life?

To find the answer to the question of what really is real we need to understand what physical reality is, because we live our lives in this physical world. Everything we do has some connection with coping with the physical. We can’t avoid that because our bodies are physical and they require food, water, air, protection from extremes of temperature and other considerations about the maintenance of our bodies. It is the successful care of our bodies and our interactions with others that are doing so that gives us worldly value and meaning-to a point. So, we need to understand the essence of what the physical world is. What is the core of reality? On what do we base our worth and value in this life?

Scientists tell us that matter is composed of molecules, which in turn are comprised of atoms, which are made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. Smaller than these things are particles that are too small to be seen by even the most powerful electron microscopes. And beyond these particles is pure energy. In grade school I wondered what it was that kept all these little gizmos spinning and moving. I wondered why electrons kept spinning and didn’t stop, and what got them moving in the first place. The answer to these questions is the energy, the power that lies at the foundation of matter. What is this power and where does it come from? There has to be a source of energy. But science can’t find the source of this power.

John wrote in his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5, 14). The Word that came to earth, who is the source of the atoms and molecules that make up you and I, is Jesus Christ. He tells us, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In other words, Christ Jesus is the source of meaning, value and purpose in life. Jesus is God, the second part of the Trinity that is one being. I’m not going into the validity of the Bible as God’s word to man here. That is a separate subject that requires volumes to answer fully. For a foundational understanding of this topic I recommend Lee Strobel’s books “The Case for Christ” and “The Case for Easter”. They retail for about three or four dollars and are worth much more than that. I am writing here on the assumption that the Bible is the word of God, your Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.

God, in all three Persons of the Trinity, created the heavens and the earth and declared the physical world good. He made people as His highest creation on this earth, His most valuable possession. And you are part of His most valuable possession. You are more valuable to God than anything else He has created. You are so valuable to God that he came to earth in the form of Jesus to give you the only way to Him after this life, so He can have you with Him for eternity. You were created by God in your mother’s womb as a spiritual being that has a physical body for a short period of time so that you can live in and enjoy God’s creation before you-hopefully-go to live with Him forever.

Jesus spent His life on earth working to bring people to Him. That was His purpose for coming to earth. God so loves you that He gave His only begotten Son to a horrific death on a Roman cross to pay for your sins, so that you can be with God here on earth and forever in the spirit world after you leave earth (John 3:16-21). And your value and meaning on earth come from being His beloved creation, who He put on this earth for a specific purpose according to His will and good pleasure (Ephesians 1:3-10; 2:8-10, 3:8-12). God put you here on earth for a specific purpose. And fulfilling that purpose gives you value and meaning to this life. He gave all of His people the job of bringing lost people to Him. That is the basis of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

It doesn’t matter what job God gave you to do in His creation. You can be a police officer, ditch digger, carpenter, lawyer, doctor, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. You can use your job to bring other people to Christ. And bringing others to God is the only endeavor in which you can have the most value and purpose in this world. God created the world and you, and He maintains the world -and you- in existence through His power. Without God there is nothing. With Him you are everything God wants from His world. You are His most prized possession, one of the highest of His creations that He made for Himself, and He wants you with Him for eternity. One corporate head hunter used to put prospects at ease, and then he’d hit them with the question of what their purpose was in life. One candidate answered immediately, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can”. That is your purpose in life also. That is what give you true meaning.

If you are not a Christian, I urge you to accept Christ as your personal Savior now. Now is the time. You have no guarantee of the next five seconds, much less tomorrow. And living your life as Christ lived His as much as is humanly possible is the best testimony you can have in the eyes of others. Live so that the lost will want what you have. Then, and only then, will you enjoy this earth and find true meaning and value in it.

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