Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

The Real World

It's funny that I should return to the internet for the first time in nearly two weeks with my post on The Real World. When I say that I've just now returned to the internet, I mean it; I have done nothing on the internet except check email (every several days) for the last two weeks. I just now caught up on all the blog posts, and I've got to give Andrew some serious kudos for a seriously creative idea.

Oh! The quote! That quote from so long ago was said by Whitworth's own proffesor of religion Jerry Sittser.

The quote was followed by a story about the nature of the real world. I'll relate it as best I can, but I'm sure my summary will be nowhere near as good as his version. Imagine, he said, that you were living in France during the years up to and then into the second world war. German soldiers and Nazi propaganda have become common place in your town and you no longer really think about what their presence means. Most of the people around you have assimilated into Nazi culture, or have become tolerant of it to the point that they no longer see it as an evil. Nazi occupation has become the defining aspect of the real world as they see it. It is in this framework that people lived, worked, ate, and made decisions. But imagine that you were approached by someone who told you of a movement resisting the Nazis and told you that they were working with others to try to subvert the Nazi Party. In secret you would meet with a small group in a room with the shades drawn and a lookout at the door. After waiting to make sure no one has been folowed, someone turns on a shortwave radio very softly and tunes in the BBC. You would hear news reports of the Allies taking on and overcoming Hitler, of invasions and bombing raids aimed gainst the Nazis. The real world would now be very different to you. The Nazis would no longer be the absolute of reality. You would know something more real than what the people around you know, but that knowledge could cost you your life at the hands of the establishment. Now it has become your responsibility with this knowledge to become an active member of this resistance movement which is founded on a reality more distant but more real than the ever present Nazi soldiers and propaganda.

He says this is what being a Christian is like.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a time of more outright persecution. It seems like it would be easier to be serious about faith if the world were more seriously against it. But, as it stands, Christians in our culture are not blatantly persecuted. Perhaps this has contributed to our apparent spiritual apathy. Our 'real world' does not persecute us by rejecting our beliefs, but it attempts to undermine our beliefs by surrounding us with the temptation of bright, shiny things corrupted by sin. The 'real world' accepts that I want to live a simple life, but it confused when I don't persue material things for happiness. The 'real world' accepts that I believe Jesus is the only way, but doesn't understand that I don't just mean the only way for me but the only way for the entire world. The 'real world' accepts that I want to strive for sexual purity, but continues to bombard me with sexual images. This is not outright persecition in that I don't have to fear for my life when someone offers me the latest Playboy to look at, but I do have to fear for something more important: my relationship with God which is always suceptible to harm from temptation.

Let's look at reality another way. What is more real? A life of material wealth or a life of holy poverty? A lie told for personal gain or a truth told that causes personal loss? A life filled with sensuality coming from the media, clothing companies and people we sleep around with, or a committed sexual relationship with one spouse?

What is more real? What the world offers, or what God offers?

This world we live in is indeed a real world, and I don't want anyone to think that I'm in any way labling it as unimportant, but as Christians we must always be aware that while we are part of this world we are also part of another which is infinitely more real.

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