I love watching movies (mostly Christian ones). I enjoy watching a good storyline and entering into the characters’ trials, pains, and successes, and I find great satisfaction in analyzing the film’s content to discover its truths and applicable principles. I thoroughly enjoy my family’s roundtable discussions after watching a film, as we critique the film’s plot, characters, production quality, and spiritual content. Some films have little impact, while others have been so powerful that I’m replaying them in my head for days or even weeks.
While I believe films are a valuable medium for communicating truths, the literal truth is that film is not a portrayal of current reality. While the statement is obvious enough, it is still easy to find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time dwelling on things that have no value to our lives. If we choose to live too long in the fantasy of a fictitious world, we are not living in the truth and are potentially headed for a collision with reality that could be devastating. As a kid, finding out that Charlton Heston played other characters besides Judah Ben-Hur was a disappointing reality to accept (okay, so I got over that one pretty easily, but I still maintain that Ben-Hur is my favorite film ever!).
Movies aside, however, it seems that life, in general, has ways of presenting situations where we can choose to believe either fantasy or reality. We can see this every day in our society. For example, the is media known to promote lies and dishonesty, yet people choose to believe the deceptions and base their political positions from a false narrative. While there are differing opinions and perspectives about the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality of the situation still holds that an actual virus exists and has—directly or indirectly—claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. On the academic level, many continue to promote that humans came from lesser life forms, or that homeschooling is inevitably detrimental to children’s societal and emotional health. Despite scientific and statistical evidence to the contrary, many continue to maintain their beliefs rather than sincerely search for the actual truth. Living outside the bounds of reality is an all too common human experience.
As Christians, we know that our anchor for what is true and real is the Word of God. What a relief and blessing to know the absolute Authority who can guide us into all truth (John 16:13)! Because of the Bible, we can separate truth from lies or fantasy. Thus, while my mind might like to indulge itself in an extended daydream of the latest movie I’ve watched, the Bible says that I need to be sober, to have a sound mind, and to redeem the time because the days are evil (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:7; Eph. 5:15-16).
While some in our country may think that rioting and looting will bring about beneficial government change, God’s reality says to submit to the authorities He has placed in our lives and to pray for our leaders so that we may live a quiet and peaceable life (Rom. 13:1; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). While many believe that the world exists and will continue to exist by a statistically improbable chance, the Biblical reality is that we and everything created by God exists for His glory and purpose (John 1:3; Rev. 4:11). Furthermore, while the world operates and thrives in the here and now, it is a solemn reality that there is an eternity before us and a spiritual destiny we must choose. Regardless of what we believe or how we choose to live, the reality of Heaven and Hell—and God’s provision of salvation through Jesus alone—never changes (Matt. 7:13-14; Acts 4:12).
As I consider this dichotomy that so often occurs between false “reality” and truth, I am challenged to ask myself, whose reality am I living in? Am I abiding in God’s reality, or am I living according to the figments of my or another’s imagination? As a Christian, how much do I live according to God’s Word? If I truly believe in what Scripture says about Heaven and Hell, what am I doing to help turn people to Jesus so that they can be saved? If I believe in the Biblical reality of the spiritual realm, and that we fight not against flesh and blood but spiritual wickedness, are my prayers regarding my country’s unrest in accordance with that truth?
I’m not trying to suggest that the spiritual realm is our only reality. Indeed, the Bible recognizes the reality of our current physical world (Prov. 12:10; 20:13; 1Tim. 5:8, 23; 2 Tim. 4:13). The encouragement I’m trying to give here is that we filter everything we experience through the grid of Scriptural truth and then respond to our circumstances per that Biblical reality. If we simply try to process life according to our understanding, we are at great risk of falling into a false sense of what is right and true. On the other hand, when we know and believe God’s Word, we can interpret anything—from current events to our favorite movie—with the truly correct perspective.
It is so easy to be caught up in our way of thinking. I’m so glad the Lord gave us His unchangeable Word to keep us focused on what is real and true. Without it, we would be lost in our menageries filled with lies, fantasy, and confusion. May the Lord help each of us to know His Word so that we will live and think according to His absolute truth and act according to His will.
By Esther McGuire