What is Real?

We believe we know what is real, but maybe we are wrong. The world around us seems real enough, but the Kingdom of God knows another reality: the Spirit that blows where he wills. We stand in wonder when we hear of miracles and puzzle over why we don’t see more. Yet, we are part of a culture that imbibes the myth that this world is based on just facts and reason. It is a belief that has so got under our skin that we no longer realise it is there. Is it any surprise if that is all we get?

In the nineteenth century, the writing was already on the wall. Kierkegaard shouted his warning to a church that was becoming enmeshed in rationalism – either stripping Christianity of the miraculous or converting it into a system of logical premises. The premises may have been extracted from the Bible, by they just as certainly stripped it of mystery. Needless to say, Kierkegaard was not heard. He was probably not even understood. And we live in its legacy. It is what we teach our children and embed in our culture. We base our view of reality on the tip of an iceberg, while its true substance remains hidden from us.

We may think we have a ‘Biblical Worldview’, but Bill Johnson summed up the problem when he said that God never goes against the Bible, but he can surprise us by going against our understanding of it. If we try and place God in a box, he will at some point break out. We can’t predict what he will do next. He is beyond our understanding, beyond our reason. It took Job a while to figure this out, but in the end he got it. God will be God. The Spirit blows where he wills.

God is the only reality. It is in him that all things have their being. Our God who is, who was and who will be. We cannot describe him, understand him, or fit him into our boxes. He just is. We need to get it in our heads around the fact that we will never fathom God, even though we have an eternity to do it in, God is just too big for us ever to grasp.

But I need to ground this, so, here is a fact: dead people don’t rise. If a doctor certifies someone as dead, they will not be expecting them back for a follow up appointment. Death is final. Yet, Jesus arose from the dead. The resurrection matters. It is the turning point of history, without it, Jesus death on the cross is just another execution. Paul understood. Everything hinges on the resurrection. If a man, three days dead and cold in the ground can get up, then we need to re-assess how we see the world. This is the reality of the Kingdom, it is redefined around the Spirit of God.

The Enlightenment’s view of reality has become so embedded in our culture that we no longer see the extent to which we ourselves have imbibed it. It is powerful, because it is partly true, just not the whole truth. As subjects of the Kingdom, we are called to live from another reality, one based on a God who is. The resurrection is our touchstone and we need to embed its truth in our lives. And on the journey, don’t be surprised when the unexpected and miraculous happen. We should expect it, because, after all, the Sprit has always blown where he wills.

In the beginning…

One day God sat down with his friend Moses and said, “Moses it would be good for you, and your children after you, to know how the world began, that you might understand your place in the world and lest you should one day think that the world just happened on its own.” Moses was not sure if God was joking, how could anybody possibly think the world had come about on its own? Yet Moses could not always read God, and Moses knew mankind had already made enough mistakes, but surely there are limits? He decided to take it as a joke and laughed quietly. “Now Moses, take for yourself a tablet of stone and write down these words:”

“In the beginning, God spoke and a quantum fluctuation occurred in the void, releasing energy and a rapid inflation of time and space. The ripples in the quantum field gave rise to particles spontaneously forming and then collapsing again, for the power of my word was such that nothing could stand, meanwhile the heat was very great. As things began to cool the energy divided, each to its kind, electromagnetic energy after its kind, weak forces after its kind, strong forces after its kind and gravity after its kind. As time and space began to cool further quarks and fundamental particles began to stabilise and inhabit the space that had been created and the universe was filled with light as the photons were released. And so the universe began according to the design that God had designed… Moses, why are you not writing this down?”

“Ah…” Moses’ felt his face flush. “Well, to be honest, I got lost almost as soon as you started. What was it you said again?”

God felt sorry for Moses. He could see he was doing his best, but mankind could be a little slow at times. The thought briefly crossed his mind as to whether it had been a mistake to have chosen mankind over the dolphins. Still, for all the trouble they caused him, he did not normally regret it, at least they could make him smile – even if they did not always mean to or know why. “Let me try again in simpler language this time. Write:”

“In the beginning God created music that played into the emptiness. It was a music unlike any that has ever been heard, for it was not a music of sound but of divine energy. And from the divine energy there arose a cloud that filled a region of heaven. Now, this music was so rich, so dense with meaning, that its complexity appeared as only confusion, like one vast explosion. Yet, as the heat cooled, particles began to form and matter appeared along with much light, each to its place, as assigned by me from the beginning. And so ended the first trillionth of a second.”

Moses interrupted. “Did you say trillionth of a second?”

“Yes. Actually it was less than that, but I thought I’d keep things simple. This isn’t working too well is it?” God wondered what the dolphins were doing right then. After all, it would not take too long to start over. Meanwhile, Moses sat and thought for a while. Then he said, “What if I just write ‘God said let there be light and there was light?’”.

God gave a loud chuckle. Moses had finally understood. “Yes, that will do nicely, we can build on that.” The dolphins can wait for another time.