Monday, March 31, 2008

Apparent Realities

I know Easter was two Sundays ago, but I'm still dwelling on it (which isn't a bad thing, by the way!). I've been pondering a question from a Michael Card devotional about the resurrected Christ regarding "apparent realities."

Michael's question stemmed from John 20:24-29. Thomas hasn't seen the resurrected Lord, and for him, the reality is that Jesus is dead. The ride they've been on has stopped, and the park has closed, so to speak!

But, Thomas' reality is a false one. He doesn't think Jesus is alive, even though the remaining disciples assure him he is. Thomas finds his reality to be the foundation for what he believes.

We all do that; it's human nature. We base our thoughts and feelings around what we perceive to be the truth. Sometimes, though, we're just plain wrong, and Jesus has to step in and defy our own lies with his truth. But, just because Jesus stands in front of him doesn't mean that Thomas will believe - it might be Jesus' ghost, after all. So Jesus offers him better proof than that; he lets him touch his hands and side to stroke the bruised and tender flesh, to feel the scabs and scars, to sense the warmth of the blood pulsing through his veins. This was the Jesus he'd known and followed. A little worse for the wear, but the same, nonetheless.

Suddenly, Thomas' false reality crumbles, and the new, truthful reality explodes his heart into a powerful statement of worship: "My Lord and my God!" Sometimes, that's all we can say. A simple, yet profound acknowledgment of Jesus' mastery of us and his power over creation's natural laws.

Why is this significant? Because if Jesus is truly our Lord and God, then he can master the circumstances of our lives and even hold sway over the natural laws of creation itself. So, what we perceive to be our reality, may in fact be a day or two (or three!) behind, because he has begun another work to be completed.

For Thomas, the apparent reality was that Jesus was dead; the truth was that he had risen. Jesus asked him and calls us to look beyond what seems to be the reality of the situation to a new dimension of faith. The disciples [saw] the embodiment of this new reality. In resurrected flesh and bone and blood, Jesus [stood] before them. He even [ate] a piece of fish for them, almost like a parlor trick, to show them that this - that he - is real (see Luke 24:42-43). And because he is alive and real, everything [else] he has promised them can be seen now to be true.

What's even more amazing to me is John 20:29. Jesus says that you and I receive a blessing that those who physically witnessed his resurrection can't have: "Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed." So, even when we can't see his hand at work, we can trust his power and loving heart. He's not idle. Assuming your sin account with him is cleared, the rut you may feel you're in is likely a false reality.

Take courage that Christ is alive and is with you
. Today. Now. It's a reality.

*All italics from Michael Card, "New Dimension of Faith," March, 2008

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