Living In Reality
Every now and then you will hear it said that someone has lost touch with reality or some such thing as that. To discuss reality might seem absurd at first glance, but it’s not really. In fact, it’s a topic you ought to be pondering regularly. So, to begin, let’s look at the definition of the word. It is, The state of things as they actually exist. My own one-word definition is truth. And as you’ll learn in this life, truth can, at times, be quite evasive.
Granted, if we’re defining reality in terms of this material world only, then the question of reality might well be considered absurd. But if we’re talking in abstracts, then the discussion can be more productive. A man can be living with his wife, for example, and have no idea that she is planning to divorce him in a year. He may be making plans for his family’s future, but unfortunately, he’s not living in reality. Rather, he is ignorant of the reality within which he is existing and is on a collision course with it. So let us first conclude that the reality most difficult to grasp extends beyond physical things, and our ignorance can play a large part on determining whether or not we are actually living in it.
Another barrier to grasping reality is change. As time passes, things seem to be in a constant state of flux. Standards appear to morph over time. So, since we all experience this change, especially in social mores, you can see how we could base reality on the changes we experience rather than an unchanging standard. It has become normal and acceptable, for example, that it is good for a woman to have her unborn child put to death because she doesn’t want it. That is what we experience, and so it is normal, and so it is reality, and so—it might be easily concluded—it is moral. But to think that the killing of an unborn child is moral is not living in reality.
Increasingly, and in addition, the understanding of reality might very well be based on a mixed bag of propositions that have a bad habit of contradicting each other. One popular proposition, for example, is that it is absolutely true that Man cannot know absolute truth. But that proposition undermines itself. It proclaims a reality while at the same time denying that that same reality can exist. And, like the man who doesn’t realize his wife is about to divorce him, the man who buys into this proposition is not living in reality. It’s easy enough to say that there’s no absolute truth, but he won’t be able to live by that proposition. He must still borrow absolute truths from reality to function. A culture based on the pipe-dream of no absolutes—and your culture is by the way— has lost touch with reality. So be warned, to buy into the cultural mindset of “normal” is to exit reality. But true reality has a way of teaching wayward people and societies that it will not be simply wished away; it has a way of imposing itself on those who desire rather to be ignorant of its existence.
As older generations pass away, passing with them is an old and more realistic way of seeing this world. As the offspring of subsequent generations enter society they will not only have been the products of 12 plus years of Secular Humanist indoctrination, they will also increasingly be the products of parents who were themselves products of Secular Humanist indoctrination. The world you are living in, therefore, is in the midst of a great shift. The mindset that there is no truth will not only be prevalent in your world, it will become even more prevalent in the world that is coming. You can expect, therefore, that anyone who holds that absolute truth does exist will be seen as abnormal, and even immoral. This reality will present you with some challenges that are, perhaps, unique to your time. You must not only hold fast to the truth that there is truth, you must also hold fast to the truth.
Indeed, the belief that there is truth is the starting point for seeking to live in reality. You will discover that there is another question, which is epistemological in its nature, and which must be considered if you will have any hope of living in reality. That question is, “Can truth be known?” We can believe all day that truth exists, but if we are convinced that it cannot be known, its existence makes precious little difference. So, let me emphatically answer that question for you: Yes! Truth can be known! There is a higher order. Reality exists, and you can know it.
It’s a stubborn thing, reality. Man cannot create or rearrange it to suit his preferences or pleasures. You’ll either live in reality, or you will be on a collision course with it. If I believe that I can jump off of a cliff and not get hurt, the moment I jump I will have set an appointment with reality no matter how much I deny its existence on the way down. In the same way, if I set sail on the sea of life with a compass constructed on the basis that truth can’t be known, I will have also set an appointment with reality. Unfortunately, since I will have denied that I can know truth, I will not even realize that it was my own faulty compass that brought my life smashing against reality’s rocky shores. But you don’t have to live this way.
Jesus told us that He was the way, the truth, and the life. There are reasonable and rational reasons to believe that He was indeed all of these things and more. So, with this in mind, let us look to His words:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27)
To be sure, stuff does happen. The storms were a reality for both of these builders. They will also be the reality in your life. The only real question is, will your reality going into the storm be the same as your reality coming out of it? Are the particulars of your mindset and your worldview strong enough to withstand the winds of reality? I pray that they are.
In closing, let me simply give you a few pointers to help you live in reality. First, be open to the fact that you will have blind spots. In the same way that you can see things in the lives of others that they can’t, they can see things in your life that you can’t. If they love you, they will want to help you work through the things you can’t understand. Don’t dismiss their concerns about you when they express them. Their love for you is trying to move you toward reality. God made us to be relational, and a big part of relationships is the building of each other up. So be approachable. The truth often hurts and so is often difficult to hear from a friend. Love those who love you enough to hurt you in order to make you better.
Second, renew your mind. Paul admonishes us to not conform to this world, which is not according to reality, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom 12:2) I renew my mind by programming it to think Biblically, and I program it to think Biblically by reading the Bible and asking God to teach me. As our minds are renewed, reality becomes increasingly clear. We’ll be able to discern the rocky shores long before we can see them.
Third, resolve inconsistencies. Here are four ways to be consistent in your life and thinking:
1Try to live a life that is consistent with scripture. God speaks to us through His Word so ask for His help. Remember that you are not earning your salvation, but are simply living it out.
2Avoid holding to internal inconsistencies. We can’t, on the one hand, for example, claim that God’s law no longer applies, and then, on the other, say it’s wrong when someone steals our wallet. That would be inconsistent and so therefore unrealistic. Be aware that some internally inconsistent ideas are more difficult to resolve than they may at first appear. That’s okay. Wrestle with them.
3Learn history, and especially the history of God’s Church, and then think consistently with that history. Don’t get sucked into “normal.” God did not change His mind about things so they could fit with a Secular Humanist zeitgeist. Still, you will find that consistency with historic views will be inconsistent with many contemporary views. Be aware also that old does not mean true. Every age and place is impacted by the deceptive winds of that particular culture and place, so always start with scripture. Look for consistencies throughout the history of Christianity, then try to remain consistent with those things. God leads and directs His Church. Be careful of new-found thinking or “revelation.” You, right now, are living in the midst of a great falling away from God in America, a great apostasy. The same denominations that are now confused about sins that are popular with culture, were the first ones to embrace earlier “new ideas” a hundred or so years ago. Think about things in the context of history.
4Understand your words. Think about what they mean when you hear them or speak them, but most importantly, when you think them. Many times inconsistencies are present without our even realizing it simply because of the way we define words. This is most evident in how we understand the word love, as well as what we expect from those who love us, and how we interact with those we love. We can know that we are not living in reality when the meanings of our words morph, but our use of them does not.
I pray that you would live your lives in reality. I pray that you would be ever growing in the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as the deceptions of this world grow ever darker. It will be a battle for you, but it will be a battle that you, and your mother and I, can fight shoulder to shoulder with you if you allow us to.