LIFE IN TWO WORLDS
Since we as Christians live in a material world, it is sometimes difficult for us to reconcile the spiritual world that we also know exists with modern science. However, modern science is as much in concert with biblical truth as anything else God has created ? only we must look for the links He has provided, because they are not always readily apparent to our worldly minds.
Remember that Jesus is the rock, the solid foundation on which we base our faith and trust. There is a wonderful hymn in which we sing “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” We also see that rock, or stone, coming down and crushing the proud image of man in Nebuchanezzer?s dream in the Book of Daniel:
“You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.” Daniel 2:34 (NKJV)
The stone cut out without hands represents the solid One who is not of human origin, but of supernatural origin.
Through science, we know that matter may be in one of three forms: liquid, gas, or solid. However, we also have learned that there is actually nothing solid in this world. If we examine the things that we consider solid under an electron microscope, we will soon find that they are made of atoms which are constructed like tiny solar systems, with a proton and neutron in the center, and an electron orbiting around them.
These particles are in a constant state of flux and they are not solid ? they only appear to be. And that is the point – Christ is showing us that in the material world there is nothing solid, nothing that we can rely on ? it is only when we seek the godly spiritual realm that we find the solid and reliable one ? Him.
In another area, the first and second laws of thermodynamics are accepted by every serious physicist. The first law tells us that all energy replaces other energy. And the second law states that the earth is in a slow burn, and will eventually disintegrate. This is exactly the opposite of what evolution teaches ? that we are evolving into something much greater, but the laws clearly agree with what the Bible tells us will be the end of the earth:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2Peter 3:10 (NKJV)
We also know that many years before most of the world realized that the earth was not flat, Christian scientists knew it was round because of the following scripture. (Please read all of chapter eight to see that it is referencing the creation of the earth.)
“When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep.” Proverbs 8:27 (NKJV)
And in Ecclesiastes, we read about evaporation and the world-wide circulation of the wind:
“The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.” Ecclesiastes 1:6 (NKJV)
There are numerous other examples, as well. Nevertheless, what does this do for our understanding of Christ today, and where is the practical lesson for us through this?
It lies in the nexus of the two worlds. Going back to Christ, let us remember how He received a glorified body with which He could walk through walls. Obviously His body was able to coexist with material things, meaning that indeed, the spiritual and material world do occupy the same premises. Remember how the stone was rolled away from the tomb where Jesus was buried. However, this was not done for Him to escape from it, because He did not leave the tomb that way. Instead, it was to allow entrance for the disciples.
He wanted them to enter so that they could see that His body was gone. For we read in the twentieth chapter of John that when the disciples ran in and saw the remaining linen grave clothes, they believed. The fact is that Jesus? body was prepared for burial by wrapping it with hundreds of feet of linen cloth, which was also soaked with spices. It was the typical way of burying a person for preservation, much as the Egyptians prepared their mummies. And when the disciples ran into the tomb, they saw the mummy form of those cloths, but the body was gone. Jesus had left the material world without disturbing the linens He was wrapped in.
In the same way, when Jesus comes into our hearts, it is not the outside, material body that is changed, but the inside. And it is at that time God reveals to us the true nature of the spiritual and material worlds.
In the material world, there are many problems to deal with. The scriptures validate this understanding in many places, and here are a few:
“Yet man is born to trouble,
As the sparks fly upward. “Job 5:7 (NKJV)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. “Psalms 34:19 (NKJV)
Our Blessings Are Spiritual
Nevertheless, we sometimes think that God, whom we know is in control of our circumstances, is not being good to us because He is not changing our circumstances. This is because we totally miss the point of the convergence of the spiritual and fallen material world.
God gave the world to man for a certain amount of time. Some believe it is seven thousand years, but whatever the actual time period, we know that there will come a day when He will reclaim this world, judge the unsaved, and restore the world to perfection. In the meantime, however, the world is under the dominion of Satan. This is because when man was given dominion, he turned it over to Satan in the garden of Eden, because he chose to obey Satan and not God. Man became a slave to sin because he chose to sin. He is only set free from sin by the power of the blood of Christ.
Even Jesus, when tempted by the devil, did not dispute the ostensible authority that Satan briefly holds on the earth. Satan offered Him the kingdoms of this world, and Jesus did not deny that he temporarily had authority over them.
There is no question that God does supernatural work in the world, for every salvation that occurs is supernatural, and brings the person from Satan?s dominion into God?s. This “healing of the soul” is far more miraculous than any physical healing we may observe. Nevertheless, since we are worldly, miracles in the physical realm seem more sensational to us. And these physical miracles of healing and other things do occur, as well. However, they are not the norm.
How many people are brought back from the dead in this world, with incontrovertible proof? How many blind people receive sight? It does happen, but it is definitely the exception, and not the rule. Miracles may occur more frequently as the end draws near, but they do not happen every day.
Now, let us apply this to our own lives. Why do we expect God to change our circumstances every time they are disagreeable? Does He do that for anyone? At times He has done it for us, as a token of His presence, and we even see that “His mercies are new every morning.” But we would not be in this fallen material world if every whim were supernaturally indulged. The emphasis of His promises to us are spiritual and not material, for in the following scripture we read of spiritual blessing.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ?” Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV)
Consequently, we see in the nexus of the spiritual and the material, in the convergence of these two worlds which exist simultaneously, that the message to us is that through faith we believe in the spiritual, in spite of the circumstances of the physical. Christ says:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)
He means by this that even as the apparently solid nature of this world is actually more like air, so is the peace and joy that it offers.
Therefore, even as solid material matter can coexist with the spiritual dimension, so also can we, in the troubles we experience in this world, still coexist with the peace in the spiritual realm which He alone gives. If this is not true, how then can my Christian friends, with various ailments such as Parkinson?s disease, quadriplegia, having a Down?s syndrome child, etc., continue to be productive and joyful Christians? Obviously they have accepted and realize that their lot in this life is not their lot in the spiritual world. What about you? Have you accepted yours, or are you fighting God? If so, let it go today, and live in the spiritual world and not the material ? the material will always disappoint and fail you, because it has been sullied by the fall of man.
This is why Jesus says “not as the world gives.” He is saying, essentially, that His gift is a supernatural peace, not a natural peace. Nevertheless, most of us are looking for it to come in the natural, material manner, because that is the level on which we typically relate.
But it is His desire that we learn to dwell in heavenly places with Him, while coexisting in the mire of this fallen, doomed world. To some extent our walk here can be likened to that of a spy in a foreign country ? without the aspect of deceit. The spy, although living in one country, cannot forget that his or her true allegiance and citizenship is elsewhere. We must remember that our desires, goals and rewards should be spiritual, not material.
If we join into worldly activities in such a way that we cannot be distinguished from the non-believers, then we have ceased to be the salt and the light. And let us not be deceived ? the non-believers definitely notice. Deep down they are constantly analyzing us, seeking to determine whether or not we really have the truth.
Let us remember every day that we live in two worlds, and it should be our main goal to represent the heavenly world even as if we were chosen to be an ambassador for it, for in reality we are! (2 Corinthians 5:20).
There is War in the Spiritual World
Furthermore, spiritually we are living in a world which is at war, but we tend not to realize it or acknowledge it, because we do not see it always manifest in the material realm. In countries where Christians are severely persecuted for their beliefs, the spiritual and material worlds intersect, so the spiritual battle is obvious. However, in the West, we do not have the trials these Christians face, and so we are easily deceived into forgetting about the battle.
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2Tim 2:3 (NKJV)
We may have monetary prosperity, but let us not link that to spiritual prosperity, because they are not always related. God does bless us in the material realm, however, so it is easy sometimes to mix up the spiritual and material blessings. The Pharisees mixed them up, as did even the disciples, who were shocked to hear that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom heaven. In saying this it may be that Jesus was referring to the fact that most of us feel that we are really blessed when we have an abundance of material things. For most of us, that abundance tends to make us feel that we are also in good spiritual condition, even if we are closer in reality to the following scripture:
“Because you say, `I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” Revelation 3:17 (NKJV)
We are in a battle, and the very things which make us comfortable can make us poor soldiers. Loved ones and friends are on the precipice of hell ? their blood will cry out to us in eternity if we do not pray for them and willingly tell them the truth. Let us not allow ourselves to be drugged by the spirit of the world into complacency. Even if we are not fighting, you can bet our adversary is. A soldier in a battle may sleep with his rifle by his side during the skirmish, but before it is over he will awake to find himself surrounded by a wily enemy.
Living in two worlds is a challenge ? but one we must accept. In reading God?s word everyday and communing with Him, we bring the spiritual world into our lives, and rise above the frustration of the material. In fellowshipping with other Christians (yes, even with the faults we all have) the spiritual realm is strengthened in our lives. Ultimately, this flicker of time we now reside in will prove to be very important in our spiritual training, but also miniscule. Let?s make the best of it and remember it for what it really is ? a temporary residence while our mansion is being prepared.