Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Do you do any of the following?

1) Constantly reminisce about the good old days when your life seemed more carefree and your responsibilities and demands were less.

2) Live mostly in the future, where all of the present situations are somehow resolved, secret desires have come true and your life is the utopia you always hoped for.

3) Maybe you don’t have any good old days to reminisce about and the future looks quite bleak but your present reality is a great burden. Because of this you live in a fantasy world where you are the director of your imagination and everything in your make-believe world has a fairytale ending where everybody lives happy-ever after, especially you.

I ask the question because we are about to embark on a New Year with new sets of resolutions and hopes. As I meditated on what I would hope for others I was reminded of a consistent problem I have encountered in ministry. This problem affects people’s relationship with God, their attitudes towards life and their handling of problems.

This problem is often overlooked or minimized but when you understand God’s character and Word, it is a very serious matter. And what is this dilemma? It comes down to how people deal with present-day reality. They usually meditate upon what used to be or dream about what can be but they rarely face what is.

People either live in the past, the future or in some make-believe world but few ever face the present reality with integrity, confidence and grace. The reason is because many can’t accept the present reality; therefore, they want to change it according to their desires. But because they are powerless to do so, they create a different reality.

This reality is not based on truth but on a delusion. It will not solve problems but often creates other situations that can prove to be more destructive. The greatest enigma being the separation that will occur between the individual and God.

To not face, deal or confront present-day reality in a realistic way is sin to God. It is sin because God is truth and only deals in the personal lives of men as Truth on a daily basis.

In fact, there are five reasons why it is sin to deal in any other reality than the present.

If you are looking back to the past, you are in a sense showing ingratitude for the gift of life you presently possess. Life constitutes the present and not the past or future. It is meant to be celebrated everyday, not treated as some great burden.

People who look backwards are not celebrating life, rather they are creating a morbid reality that will never allow them to move forward and learn the preciousness of God’s gift. This was evident with the children of Israel.

They looked back at the good old days in Egypt where they ate leeks and garlic instead of manna they now had to eat. They conveniently forgot the whole truth.

When people look back, they tend to overlook those things that were destructive, leaving them with a lop-sided perception. For example, the children of Israel overlooked that they were slaves in Egypt, often oppressed and deprived of the right to enjoy life.

There is also judgment awaiting those who insist on looking back. Because the children of Israel did not learn to embrace the life God entrusted to them, He sent a leanness or dissatisfaction into their souls (Psalm 106:15).

The Apostle Paul knew how to celebrate life. He stated: “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11b).

If a person is constantly looking forward, he or she is putting his or her hopes in the future instead of God. Most people who live in the future are putting their hopes in illusive dreams or expectations. Since such people do not realistically consider the future, they also are not realistically facing the present. Secretly, they believe that tomorrow holds the key to their happiness. But, as we all know, tomorrow never comes for these people and their illusive dreams.

People who only deal in the future are not only unrealistic but they have a self-centered perception and often appear foolish to those who recognize the futility of their emphasis on something that is uncertain.

Jesus tells us to: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

James 4:14-16 tells us: “Wheras ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boasting, all such rejoicing is evil.”

The third reason that it is sin to not live in the present reality is because it creates great darkness in the mind, preventing the mind from discerning truth from fantasy. Anything that is not truth is a form of fantasy or delusion. People who live in a form of fantasy create ruts in their mind that grow deeper with each illusion that is embraced. Eventually, the ruts become so ingrained that the person borders on or operates in insanity. Sadly, I have contended with many who can’t properly discern truth from their form of fantasy.

The Apostle Paul instructed us to think on that which is real or true in Philippians 4:8. After all, it is truth that sets a person free and can ultimately bring peace to his or her ravished mind.

The fourth reason that it is sin to create another form of reality is because life is meant to give us a reality check. The hardest truth for man to face in his present reality is that he is not God; therefore he is subject to life instead of life being subject to him.

This is a harsh reality because it means mere man can’t change his present reality. Obviously, it is the present reality that is meant to change or adjust the man to truths beyond himself. Life forces him to face his vulnerabilities, weakness and fears in order to recognize that he is not in control of the situations that come his way.

Life inevitably teaches man that living it is a daily choice (Deuteronomy 30:19). To live life I must daily choose to embrace it with its good, bad and indifferences. I can only appreciate it by allowing the past to immerge with the present in order to change the future. This happens when I learn the valuable lessons of the past and properly apply them to the present in order to change direction. It is by changing direction that a person’s future will inevitably change.

This brings us to the fifth reason that anything short of present reality or truth is sin. Because both life and truth can be summarized in one word: JESUS!

Jesus said of Himself, “I am…the truth (or reality) and the life” (John 14:6; parenthesis-my emphasis).

I will admit that present-day reality can be hard to face, but for the Christian his or her reality is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the great I AM THAT I AM. In other words, He is the ever-abiding truth and presence in the world. He knows the past and holds the reigns of the future but He only exists in the present. Therefore, wherever He resides, you will find present-day reality.

To operate outside of reality is to be outside of Jesus’ presence. For example, I have learned that the greatest lesson of my past is that I couldn’t face my present or future life without Him. Because I have learned this valuable lesson I have been able to constantly celebrate my present life for I am celebrating His reality within me.

As a result of Jesus becoming my life, I have changed my future by changing my course. Instead of following illusive dreams, I am following Jesus into the very courts of heaven to live for eternity with Him.

This brings me to the truth that my hope is not in a fantasy or delusion but in a real person. He is alive and sits on the right hand of the Father. Instead of walking in a morbid, self-centered or insane reality, I am walking in the light knowing full well whom I believe in and where I am going.

What about you? Do you live in the ever-abiding reality of Jesus or do you operate in some form of delusion?

My prayer for each of you is that regardless of what this New Year brings, that you will choose life and celebrate Jesus. If you learn to celebrate Him, nothing will move or sway you because Jesus will be your only reality.

We at GSM want to wish you and yours a blessed New Year and thank each of you for your friendship and support for this past year. We continue to look forward to serving with you in the harvest field in this New Year and new century. God bless you!