Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Reality Are You Living In?

In my constant quest for truth I am condemned to facts alone.
- Dawes, My Way Back Home

Texas Folklorist J. Frank Dobie's quote "never let the facts get in the way of a good story" seems disingenuous but who can argue that a good story is not always dependent on the precision of the facts surrounding the story?  

Lately I've been reading a book about writing song lyrics wherein the author uses a similar but far more precise quote that struck me as particularly insightful:  Never let reality get in the way of truth.   Wow!   What a mind bender!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 
- Heb. 11:1

When do my circumstances become inhibitors to greater faith in my life?    Answer: When I allow my experience to dictate my belief. 

My senses are certainly a gift from God that can help me to process the unending external streams of information and my internal responses but when my faith becomes tied to my experiences and feelings it ceases to become faith.

What do our circumstances really tell us about the spiritual life?   R.C. Sproul described the problem of sense-perception recently saying, "we can have distorted perceptions of external reality and that makes basing our understanding of reality on our sense-perceptions something of a serious philosophical problem".   He continues....

Augustine didn't put sense-perception at the highest level of certitude by any means, but he wasn't prepared to simply jettison sense-perception as a useless enterprise either.  He understood something fundamental to humanity and that is that our only transition, our only link, to a world apart from our interior minds, our own thinking, is our bodies.  Our bodies are our only link with the external world.  - R.C. Sproul

For Augustine the highest level of certainty was centered around the search for supreme human fulfillment - The knowledge of God.  In essence Augustine believed that there was a perfect being who only thinks (creates) perfect ideas from whence truth springs forth.   What does this objective truth have to do with my subjective experience of it?

The problem with trusting my circumstances is that they are inextricably linked to my emotions.   When my "reality" satisfies my desires and expectations I find myself flying high.   Conversely when I'm dissatisfied with my "reality" I can be crushed and become despondent or angry.   Either way I am a helpless victim of my circumstances and my selfish heart.  (check the sad Dawes quote up top!)

Emotions, though they are indicators of reality, can be twisted by my unpredictable circumstances.  Emotions, like our circumstances, are constantly in flux.   Allowing them to guide our lives is tantamount to foolishly expecting a peaceful ride on an electronic bull with a intoxicated "carney" in charge of its erratic movements.

We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion but the truth as God has given it in verbalized, prepositional form in the Scripture and which we first of all apprehend with our minds. - Francis Schaeffer, The New Super-Spirituality

For Augustine the mind can know nothing except insofar as God functions within it as "the great illuminator" (Sproul).   God has been made known to us in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ who said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) 

On a daily basis we’re faced with two simple choices. We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross.  Far too often we choose to passively listen to ourselves. We sit back and let our view of God and life be shaped by our constantly shifting feelings about our ever-changing circumstances.  - C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life

Thankfully God has provided a way out of the sinking sands of a life built on circumstances and emotions.   He has extracted us by the power of The Gospel.   We feed on that fact in our hearts by faith.  

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. - Rom. 12:1

I developed a picture to help illustrate what feeding on The Gospel (the indicative - i.e. what's been done) does to empower us towards obedience (the imperative - i.e. what we're to do).

The Holy Spirit drives The Gospel deeper and deeper into our hearts and we are drawn into participation in the death of Christ on the cross where we die to our flesh and simultaneously share in Christ's resurrection life.   In doing so we become living sacrifices!    The deeper God's vertical work of The Gospel goes into us, the wider He begins to move through us horizontally in our relationships.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 
- Gal. 2:20

God brings about The Dynamism of The Gospel within us through our faith which is a gift as well.  Are we not passive actors throughout?  Paul's language above details a complete cessation of the self that "He might will and act according to His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13) by His Spirit.  

Joe Friday from the popular 60's show Dragnet immortalized the words, "Just the facts m'am".  It's true that we do need facts and not just good stories (thank you very much Mr. Dobie!).  But there's only one fact that makes sense of our every circumstance and emotion: The fact that God loves us unto death in Christ Jesus.  

May we never let our individual realities get in the way of that forever-enduring and all-powerful truth!  


This Week... 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am, Wednesday AM - Kings Cross Chapter 15
   @ THIS WEEK ONLY - THE EGG AND I, Broadway and E. 9th St.

Next Week...   

* Men's Lunch @ Dakota's in Tyler, TX - Mondays @ 12pm - Keller's Kings Cross - Chapter 13

* Thursday: Megan and I celebrate 10 years of marriage - Thank You Lord!

* Friday: The Magills w/ The In-Laws and Outlaws at The Moore's Store in Ben Wheeler, TX - 8-11pm 

No comments:

Post a Comment