It’s a feeling of being not-quite-there. It’s visceral, and it’s sensory at the same time. Your visual faculties need adjusting as things don’t look quite right. You’re taking steps, walking slowly, even a bit gingerly so perhaps you won’t lose your balance. It’s like the world you’re in isn’t quite real. Know the feeling?
We’ve all (at least almost all) felt it. It’s the feeling that you have when you leave the movie theatre. At least that’s how I feel after leaving the theatre, especially after (another) “Save the Universe” Superhero/Science Fiction/Fantasy movie that my kids have begged to see.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love fantasy – J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author, and it was a dream come true when The Lord of the Rings came to the theatre. But the fact of the matter is that my senses have it all wrong in those moments after the movie. What seems unreal is most real; reality is not on the screen, it’s in the halls – and it’s in the people I’m walking out with. That’s real life.
Today we are living with incredible technology that allows us to suspend reality. What used to be limited to an imagination fueled by words on the page is now extended to us through a wide variety of lifelike visual images and other mediums. And what can be restorative recreation can become destructive distraction, as the opiate of entertainment can drive us to obsession. How would God respond to this? I think the answer is found in the story of Jesus.
The gospels record that Jesus performed the bulk of his early ministry in the region of Galilee, an area northwest of the Jewish Capital of Jerusalem, the Holy City that contained the Temple. While Jesus’ ministry in this region had its challenges, it was primarily marked by tremendous successes with great miracles and large crowds captivated by the words and works of Christ.
But as impressive and impactful as it all was, Jesus knew his purpose. Luke records that shortly after his transfiguration, Jesus began to journey southwards. He writes:
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51, ESV).
From there on, it “got real.” Jesus compelled his disciples into the mission field, and he himself would face many tests. The political realities of Herod, Pontius Pilate, and Caiaphas. The cultural realities of the Samaritans, Romans, and Jews. The religious realities of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The economic realities of poverty, exploitation, and greed. The social realities of marriage and family. Jesus encountered all these things on the road to and upon his arrival in Jerusalem.
And so do we. As we enter into the season of Lent, which commemorates Jesus’ march to Jerusalem, we begin a sermon series I’ve entitled In Real Life.
During the Sundays leading up to Easter, I’ll be tackling the tough, real-life issues that test the disciples of Christ today. Purpose, Consumerism, Technology, Addiction, Sexual Saturation, Religion, and Politics are among the subjects I will address from Jesus’ point of view. This is the stuff of real life that we must set our faces to navigate through and deal with as we live as the People of God in the here and now.
Come and join us! It begins this Sunday, March 3rd.
Seeking Jesus, Serving Others.