“He seemed like a nice guy.”
“I just can’t believe she was really doing that.”
So many times, we’ve heard stories of a person reacting to the discovery that a seemingly nice neighbor was actually a dangerous criminal of some type. The person’s reality has been altered. He or she lived in a way that assumed the neighbor to be a trustworthy, well-meaning, or friendly person. But, this new information changes the way he or she will think or behave in a normal, daily environment… reality has changed with the assessment of newly obtained knowledge.
There are basic, undeniable, immovable existences that we refer to as reality. We know that releasing a suspended object (while on planet earth) will result in it falling, and we know that standing in front of a moving train will result in a drastic change in our physical appearance.
There are also different realms of reality that are largely shaped by our understanding or perspective. Recently, I was watching one of my daughter’s basketball games. I began to think about how for each player in the game, their reality is different than the coach who is trying to organize the team in such a way that results in victory. But, for the individual team members, each of them is concerned with making a shot… or blocking the opposing team. Then, there are also the parents and other supporters on the sidelines yelling out encouragement or criticism “Why didn’t you shoot the ball?!” (The main reason I detest going to sporting events? There is always some omniscient onlooker yelling advice). The only person who sees the full reality of the overall effort is the coach.
One more analogy… The President of the United States of America has a vision for what he is trying to accomplish internationally, domestically, politically, militarily and personally; that is his reality. However, the reality for the military soldier is that he is trying to shoot an enemy that is attacking his convoy in the Middle East, and the reality for the military commanders in Washington D.C. is that they’re trying to coordinate a military victory. The President is the only person who sees the full reality of how it fits into the larger vision (It’s also the reason I could never vote for a candidate who says he will “let the generals decide”… he (or she) is basically stating he has no vision).
As we learn more and evolve as individuals, our reality begins to change. We absorb new information, assess how it fits, and realign our perspective of reality. A student over many years is led from a reality of studying information to becoming a productive adult, due to an increase in knowledge, understanding, and (hopefully) wisdom… all along, the student’s reality is changing as he becomes more aware of a reality greater than his own.
Christians believe that the greatest reality is controlled by an all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful God who loves us as a perfect father would and desires to be known by us. We believe he is “the coach” who is coordinating the team toward a win… He is “the President” who is trying to accomplish a vision on a worldwide level… He is our Father who is coordinating the outcome of His eternal plan as he directs us through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Followers of Christ begin with a faith that Jesus is the only one who can reconcile our relationship with God, then we begin following the teachings he gave and applying them through the lens of The Spirit to the world around us… but, all along we must understand that the teachings exist as an outline of how to love other people as greater than ourselves. We begin responding differently to the world around us as we grow in our faith through greater knowledge, understanding, and wisdom… our reality changes as we see more greatly the revelation of God’s greater reality (This evolution of realities is described at many points throughout scripture, some chapters are: Proverbs 4 and 2 Peter 1).
The goal of every Christian should be to align our desires, and the way we live our life, to that “greater” reality of God that was revealed through Jesus.
Two hundred years ago the reality was that a trip from New York to California would’ve taken weeks, now the reality is that it takes hours. The greater reality of the distance between those points has not changed, but our understanding of how we travel has changed… which has drastically altered the reality in which we daily function. Think about how different our lives would be if we did not grow or evolve in our knowledge and understanding of more efficient ways to travel… that “greater” reality (Scripture has strong words for those who lazily choose willful ignorance over greater understanding and knowledge).
So… back to my earlier analogies…
It may seem in life that your reality is that of the basketball player, just trying to score a point or pass the ball, because that is what you are supposed to be doing… or that soldier, trying to guard your convoy as you are currently under attack… Not understanding how it fits into the larger picture.
Maybe you are trying to follow what you know about Christ, but nothing makes sense to you… your role seems like a menial exercise in the grand scheme of God’s plan. We are called to be faithful in our knowledge of Jesus. As we are faithful, our understanding will increase as to how we fit into God’s purpose, and we will begin to act with wisdom… as God is always revealing to us His greater reality of eternity that we’ve stepped into upon our initial faith in Christ.