bible articles

Reality Check

As an international speaker, traveling on planes has become a routine. Besides the mundane things that come along with flights, now and then my wife Silvia and I bump into interesting people resulting in interesting conversations about life. Some time ago we checked in for another flight. Silvia got a seat beside a man and it did not take long before they had delved into a conversation about Christianity. I must say that it is very easy to get into a spiritual conversation when most of the flights we are on have a mission-oriented project as our destination. Questions regarding our destination or occupation naturally lead to spiritual discussions. The man did not claim to be a Christian or to believe the Bible, but liked to talk about these things and had some questions. They ended up talking about creation, and he found out that Silvia actually believes in a literal six-day creation. He was a bit puzzled for a moment, and though the conversation had been both friendly and respectful, he could not hide his utter surprise. The next thing he said we would never forget: “I know many Christians, but you are the first Christian that I’ve met that actually believes the Bible.”

Bible-Believing Christians a Growing Minority

This blunt and candid statement made me think. Though we know thousands around the world that believe the same about the Bible as we do, that it is indeed the inspired Word of God and its revelations are not contrary to science or reality, his words were nonetheless alarming. Bible-believing Christians are clearly becoming a minority in secular Europe. In our western society Christianity has become more of a tradition than anything else. Many Christians go through certain motions at certain periods of life. For many Christians, the “practice” of Christianity might start with baptism as a baby, followed by confirmation as a boy or girl, a wedding as a young man or young lady, and finally – to close it off – a Christian might end up in a church graveyard. Between these events, the Bible is the book that contains the Christmas story that might be read once a year. Oh, and it also says something about Easter besides the rabbits and eggs. I think you get my point. A quote I came across by author Sam Pascoe, put it this way: “Christianity began in Palestine as a fellowship, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, moved to Italy and became an institution, moved to Europe and became a culture, moved to America and became an enterprise.”

Why is it that so many Christians no longer believe the bold claims of the Bible? The late Methodist preacher, Leonard Ravenhill, said, “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.” Maybe the problem lies deeper than we think. Maybe many Christians, and we can include ourselves here, often live in two worlds.

Just In Case Theology

Let me try to explain what I mean. There is the “real” world – the tangible things around us of which the sum makes up our lives. This is everything from food, clothes, relationships, education, work, and so much more. Then there is the “Biblical world” of faith, which we enter now and then, particularly once a week when we go to church. Here we read and hear about God, angels, miracles, eternal life, and such. Many of us have learned from a young age to compartmentalize these two worlds and live in one while believing, somewhat, in the other. But they stay two distinct worlds and rarely do they interact or merge with each other. As Christians we now and then visit the world of the Scriptures, but that is exactly what it is, a world for itself. Subconsciously the Scriptures describing the “Biblical world” end up in a place of fiction rather than reality. It happens so easily that we buy into, what I like to term, the “just in case” theology. We want to get the best out of this world while still believing the Gospel, just in case. We put our bets on heaven. After all, the description of heaven is amazing. But we also put our bets on earth. After all, if what the Bible says is not true, at least we had a good life down here. We put one foot in this world and one foot in the Biblical world. We separate our “spiritual lives” from our “normal lives” – just in case! But the fundamental question remains: Are there two worlds? Can we live two lives?

Paul, the apostle, writes that we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men (1 Corinthians 4:9). In other words our lives, lived on this earth, are on display for an on-looking universe. According to Scripture, God and innumerable angels, see all we do. We might at times attempt to live in two worlds, but if we truly believe Scripture there is only one reality. It’s the one the Scriptures reveal. Everything we do and everything we are is part of this one reality. Paul, in another place, writes to the early believers in Corinth and says,

“If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Two Realities?

Paul identifies an enemy in the picture. The “god of this age,” who in other places of Scripture is identified as Lucifer, the fallen angel, the one who instigated the great controversy between good and evil. This being seeks to blind the minds of people from a revelation of the Gospel, which is a revelation of the character of God. We can see that this being has succeeded in blinding the minds of millions in our world today as to the reality of this great controversy we are all living in. Sadly, millions go through life unaware of the only real world, which is the Biblical one. A fake reality has been created that excludes God as creator, Lucifer as deceiver, a great controversy, the Gospel, the Ten Commandments as a moral foundation, eternal destinies, and so much more. We live our lives in a world surrounded by people that have a fundamentally different understanding of what constitutes reality. In many instances the life of the Christian has adapted to a reality without God. And yet, in order to soothe the conscience, the Biblical reality is not fully removed, but merely designated to certain times and places where others believe as we do. If this in any way reflects your life right now, don’t despair. We have all bought into this at one point or another. And more importantly, we are not left without precious instruction from the only place where the real world is described-the Scriptures! In the book of Romans, chapter 12 and verse 2, it says,

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

No doubt, as Christians we are not exempt from being conformed to this world. This includes the thinking of this world and the reality that this world projects on us. And yet the Spirit of God wants to transform and renew our minds! Once this happens our eyes are no longer blinded, but we see as God sees. We look at the world around us with the eyes of faith. Our glasses, you could say, are the Scriptures. They interpret the world and the universe as it really is, a battle zone between Good and Evil. When we go through life with this continual awareness we will want to prove what is good and acceptable, and what is the perfect will of God. His instructions will matter to us. Not only once a week in Church, but in every instance of our lives. With the awareness that innumerable angels are watching our lives, we can gain assurance that we are not alone in the challenges we face. The cross of Jesus is suddenly not just a relic of the past. Our lives change when we are fully aware that the tomb is empty and that Jesus is alive and accessible to us through prayer. We gain confidence and boldness once these realities become real to us! And this “reality check” is not to happen once, but by God’s grace, we can experience it day-by-day. Listen once again to the words of Paul:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Let’s abandon the “just in case” theology and embrace the fullness of Gospel living, looking for things which are not seen. Let’s experience a radical reorientation by the renewing of our minds. May we all, day-by-day, experience a reality check and then by the power of God live according to it.