Christ followers have a story to tell, a story the world needs to hear. It is a powerful story that can transform individual lives, lift communities from poverty, and build nations that are free, just, and compassionate. It is God’s story.
Our story is not make-believe. Rather, it is the objective truth. It comports with reality.
In his trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, the great story-teller, J.R.R.Tolkein, created the realm of Middle Earth, home to dwarves, elves, humans, orcs, and, yes, hobbits. Readers around the world have thrilled to follow the narrative. Why? Because Tolkien artfully reveals truth through fantasy. All good art, including fantasy, reveals Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. The rest creates illusions, counterfeit visions of lies (instead of truth), ugliness (instead of beauty), and evil (instead of goodness). Such “art” begets destructive worlds and lifestyles that impoverish human beings.
The Psalmist David reflected on the human phenomena of worshiping false gods, which is to live in a world of illusion: How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah (Psalm 4:2 NIV).
David recognizes that when a person rejects the worship of the glorious God, they do not worship nothing–they worship anything. That includes gods of their own making. Humans somehow are drawn to delusions, things that have no existence in reality. Deluded people begin their journey into lies by worshiping false gods, especially the gods of humanity (Pagan Humanism) and Nature (Pagan Animism).
But the worship of false gods has consequences. The human imagination creates a world of illusion, a “world” with little or no actual existence in reality. In such a world, the universe is upside down: evil is good, lies are true, the hideous is deemed beautiful. Consider, for example, pop culture. In its music, film, television, and video games, violence is glorified, while sex and material consumption are the ends of life. People are dehumanized, even replaced by machines. Family is passé, women commoditized, babies routinely murdered.
British lawyer and author, Philip Quenby, writing in Redeeming a Nation, speaks of the dangers facing his beloved England by the lies produced in the worship of false gods:
There is a great lie stalking our land. It says that one set of ideas is just as valid as another. It whispers that there is no objective truth and that morality is in effect merely a matter of opinion. If that were really true, there would be no basis on which to condemn murder, rape, child abuse or any other crime. Such foolishness has already cast a shadow over England. If we persist in acting as though it were true, we will once again find ourselves walking in darkness. Here is our challenge, for we risk slipping back towards paganism and idolatry.
When I was young in faith, I was discipled in Young Life. The Bible version of choice was J. B. Phillips’s paraphrase of the N.T. I was challenged by reading 1 John 1: 5-10:
Here, then, is the message which we heard from him, and now proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and no shadow of darkness can exist in him. Consequently, if we were to say that we enjoyed fellowship with him and still went on living in darkness, we should be both telling and living a lie. But if we really are living in the same light in which he eternally exists, then we have true fellowship with each other, and the blood which his Son shed for us keeps us clean from all sin. If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we take up the attitude “we have not sinned”, we flatly deny God’s diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what he has to say to us.
Note the similar concepts to David’s in the Psalms. When we live in darkness rather than light, truth becomes a stranger and lies become friends. In short, left to ourselves, we live in a world of illusion rather than in reality.
The life mission of British philosopher and novelist, Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), was to call people from illusion to reality. She once said: “We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.”
Three millennia earlier, the Wisdom of Solomon declared: “Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion; wise realists plant their feet on the ground” (Proverbs 14:18, The Message). This warning is not tantamount to a call to stop dreaming. Rather, it is a call to shun foolish dreaming. We are to be wise dreamers whose dreams reflect the boundless glory of God himself. We are to dream to the limits of reality.
We live in a world where illusions are sacred and truth, goodness and beauty are profane. We need to push back against the lies and live in the reality of the glory of God and his creation 0rder!
– Darrow Miller