Getting Real

Misunderstanding reality and living in accordance with that misconception causes all the hate, strife, and other evils in this world. This includes not only your misconceptions but also the false beliefs of other individuals, businesses, government officials and politicians. Some years ago the expression “get real” was a popular way of telling someone he was not in touch with reality, the way things work. It really meant that the user wanted the other person to believe and act according to the way the speaker wished things worked, not how things really work.

Everyone has his or her idea of what reality is and how it operates. These viewpoints are subjective. They’re based on how a person wishes reality was so she can live the way he wants to live. In the late 1960s through the ’70s coffee houses were popular, and versions of them are still found in places. They served coffee and snacks, and sometimes meals. People went to them to visit or just sit alone with their thoughts.

McGill University in Montreal, Canada, had two coffee houses, the Back Door and the Green Door, that had different personalities. The Back Door was used by students for studying and quiet contemplation, usually by just one student at a table. The Green Door served lunch for $0.25 on week days and had local entertainment on weekend evenings. I was sitting at a table in the Green Door talking with a few students one time. One of the guys was baiting me with comments to see what response I would have. I forget the topic. A woman sitting on my side of the table was becoming more and more upset. Finally she blurted out, “You’re either a cop or a priest!” I told her that I would take the remark as a back-handed compliment, but no, I was neither. What she meant by her comment was that the answers I gave to the student across the table conflicted with how she ordered her life. Most likely my views conflicted with her personal sense of morality and ethics, or a lack of them.

The two extreme theories on how to order personal reality are the monks and the new secular views. Monks retreat and live apart from humanity in order to be closer to God. Adherents to the secular theories claim that individuals can do as they want as long as no one else is harmed. Both views are alike in that they are selfish and self centered. The monk is not interested in other people, only his enlightenment. The new secularists are interested only in what they want regardless of how it effects other people. Such philosophies are the front porch of anarchy. It takes every person in a society working together toward the same goals and with the same standards to make society work properly.

The Bible-based Christian reality is the true explanation of reality. It is a balanced view based on both God and the world, and while it is God centered it is other directed. That is, it is the sharing of God with other people in both words and deeds. Christian reality encompasses the whole of the Bible, but for the sake of brevity here I’ll confine it to Christ’s summary found in the New Testament. However, some background from the Old Testament is necessary to correctly understand what the writers of the New Testament explained in their texts. I’ve dealt with these topics before, so I’ll just highlight them here.

In the beginning God created the universe, including our planet and its life forms. He created humans as His greatest creation, creating us in His likeness. Like God we have a soul and a spirit, which while the same thing are also different. We don’t gain the third part of the human trinity unless we become Christians. At this point we are comprised of a soul, spirit, and Christ, He living in us and us in Him. He lived in the world for about 33 years, and we live in the world also for a short time. You are in essence a spiritual being with a temporary physical body. You have to deal with the world while you live here, but you should not live according to the world. But you do need to live for the world through Christ.

God so loves you that He gave His only begotten Son on the cross so that you have a way back to Him. Everyone is born with the fallen human nature inherited from Adam and Eve. The only way God provides for your return to Him is through accepting His gift of salvation in Christ. He loves you so much that He gave Himself in the form of Jesus to bring you back to Him. Accordingly, He gives Christians the Greatest Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30,31).

Your love of and for God should be above your love of anything or anyone else, because where your treasure is there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21). Loving God first because He first loved us will benefit your spouse, family and friends much more than what you could do on your own. One man who Jesus invited to become a disciple said, to let him go first to bury his father. Jesus said to follow Him and let the dead bury the dead ( Matthew 8:22). Jesus explained, ” He who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And, he who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And, he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life will find it” ( Matthew 10: 37-39).

What would it profit you to gain the whole world, but lose your soul (Matthew 16:26). You are an eternal spiritual being. You will live someplace forever, either in heaven with God or in hell with Satan and his crew. It would be foolish to live according to the world for a very brief time and the spend eternity in hell: Eternity never stops, never.

Loving God first and completely is only the foundation, the corner stone of the Great Commandment. We are also to love our neighbor as ourselves. In other words, Jesus also gave us the Great Commission to ” Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name 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).

Being a Christian is God centered and other based. We internalize the love of God by giving it away to others. When John the Baptist sent word to Jesus from prison asking if He was the expected Messiah, Jesus answered to Go and tell John they had seen the lame walk, blind healed, the deaf hear, and most importantly, “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22; see also Mark 6:12; 16:20).

Jesus said that as long as He was in the world He was the light of the world John 8:12; 9:5). But now His followers are the light of the world because His light shines out through them. Christians are His light to the world, that it may attract others to Him through them: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but put it on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

True reality then is centered in God according to His commands, not ours ( Matthew 26:39), and directed outward to others so that they may come to Christ. The foundation of reality is that God created and maintains the universe and the world (John 1:1-3), and He created us in His image. He therefore loves us and wants all people to come to Him. And, they can know about Him only through Christians who are now His ambassadors to the world. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God, and the word comes to others through our lifestyle and words.

It is your obligation as a Christian to yourself, to your family and friends, and most importantly to God is to live according to the reality founded by God and found in Christ and His example to us. This is impossible for us to do on our own, but Christ is with us even to the end of the age. What is impossible for us to do is no problem for the One who created and maintains the universe. This doesn’t mean that Christians can ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Not in this world, but we can have peace: “These things I have spoken to you that you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And in Him we also overcome the world.

So then, it’s your job as a Christian to bring an understanding of reality as it really is to others. And if you aren’t a Christian, understanding what true reality is and your place in it will improve your life beyond what you ever thought possible. And your understanding of reality so that your can live in harmony with it is only found in Christ. Becoming Christ’s follower is the only possible way to get real. So accept Him as your Lord and Savior right now and find out how wonderful life here on earth can really be.

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