Our upbringing determines our view of reality. It gave us the cold truth of the rational and of the material. A truth that is solid. Only it isn’t. It is at best a shadow. Of course, Plato said much the same thing, but I am not arguing for Plato. In fact, it was the Greeks who mislead us, for they were wrong.
The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor makes the point that several hundred years ago we saw the world differently, a world that drew its meaning from the unseen, framed by God and by spiritual forces. Now, we have rejected that. For the only thing that really matters, the only thing that is really real is the material world around us. It is our certainty. Only it isn’t. We don’t need to look too far to puncture this balloon. Even science tells us that things are not what they appear. Time is not what it appears. Even matter as not as solid as we once believed. All, in their own ways, illusions, mere appearances.
We, like Thomas, declare we will not believe unless we can see. Yet, that does not mean that it is not true. In fact it is the height of our arrogance. Yet, our marginalising of the unseen has left us in an uncomfortable place, a place of desolation. Alone and meaningless in a empty universe. Yet we have our doubts. Something tells us there must be more, so we grope blindly in the dark for something, because anything is better than the emptiness of our nothing.
Yet, we do not need to walk blindly. We have a different story, the story told in our scriptures, of an unseen God, a God who stepped into our world to become as a man, the man Jesus. And what we saw shocked us. For having humbled himself to become like us, he then laid down his life, even to death on a cross, loving us, even as we are. For a short while, the unseen became seen and the world is no longer the same. For sure, this was not a new story. It is the same story told since the beginning, but for the first time we understood. Now we saw it in new light, a light that brought life. It is a light that even death could not put out, because Jesus rose again. The barrier between the seen and the unseen is now torn and we can pierce that barrier through our imagination by faith, enabling us to see beyond the seeing of our eyes and into the reality that lies beyond and into the reality that matters.
For Neo, in the film ‘The Matrix’, there was a pill he could take to dissolve the illusion. For us there is no pill, but the message of the gospel that we need to believe, a message that the church has not always preached clearly, clouded by problems of a different age, problems that are no longer relevant and stop the gospel being heard. Yet the power of the gospel remains and just as Luther needed to find its message for the Middle Ages, we too must learn to find its message for our generation. When we do, we will find that it is a decision worth taking, for, unlike the bleak and desolate world Neo discovered, we find that it is the bleak and desolate world we leave behind.
For more information see: Big Picture