“Reality, sometimes life ain't all that it's cracked up to be,
So let's take a chance and live this fantasy,
'Cause everybody needs to break free, from reality” Kenny Chesney
The pastor of the New Birth Church in Georgia, Eddie Long, has been accused of molesting several boys. He took a brief hiatus from the church and now has come back with a ritual that has many in the church world shaking their heads in confusion. In a service two weeks ago, a fake rabbi rapped a Torah scroll around Mr. Long and declared him a king. King of what, no one knows. Just like no one knows who the rabbi is, or what he was doing with the torah. But the audience sure liked it. If you are interested in more information I have included the following links; here, here, and here.
So, how can all of this happen? How can the disgraced minister of a huge church create a fake ceremony and have himself crowned as a fake king? Apparently it’s easy when you create your own reality. I’ve had this happen to me several times. I thought I knew what was happening around me, and what the people around me were thinking, and then I turned out to be completely wrong. It didn’t help that I had people whispering fantasies into my ear that I conveniently wanted to hear. I’ve also seen plenty of people around me create and wallow in fantasies of their own making. Creating an alternate reality is common and I think if we are discerning, we will admit that we all have done this at one time or another.
There is an interesting story in the Bible that shows the problems with creating alternate realities. Ananias and Sapphira sell a property and offer the money to God (Acts 5:1-11). However, they keep some of the money for themselves. Peter being inspired by the Holy Spirit accosts them with the truth and they fall down dead. The story seems to be focused on teaching believers to hold nothing back in their devotion to God. However, I would also point out that Ananias and Sapphira do something that is done all of the time. They make a promise, and then go back on it. The decision to go back on a promise is always justified. We know what we are doing is wrong, but we decide that we have a very good reason for doing it. Sometimes our scheme’s work and the reality we try to create comes to pass. At other times, our scheme’s fail, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
If this problem is so common, how can we avoid it? As usual Jesus comes to the rescue. Let’s look at the story of the Samaritan woman in the 4th chapter of John. The woman talks to Jesus about things that are real to her: hatred between Samaritan’s and Judean’s; water from the well; and the religious claims between Samaritan’s and Judean’s. Jesus keeps offering her his reality, the love of God for everyone and God’s gift of eternal life. The woman points out opposing realities; worship and God’s presence on Mt. Gerizim versus worship and God’s presence on Mr. Zion. Jesus says that God is spiritually present to everyone and worships with us in our hearts. To me, everything Jesus says and does in this story is an attempt to help a woman he just met. The reality Jesus creates is for the purpose of blessing the people who are standing right in front of him. Jesus is always focused on what is truly real; loving people.
Therefore our challenge is to create and live in the reality God has created for us. It is not a reality that is self focused. It is not a reality that includes self aggrandizement. Instead it is a reality that calls for love of others, and self sacrifice. That is the reality I hope to live in, and I hope you will too.
God bless you,