Learning to face reality

In times of trial and difficulty, we often hear, “all will be well” or “it will work out for good” when people want to provide comfort. I used to wonder, “on what basis will all be well when everything screams the opposite?” We also hear, “face reality”, when it seems someone is not acknowledging the facts of an undesirable situation. If reality is essentially undesirable, then we are in hell.

But reality though unfathomable, is deeper, more reliable, more beautiful than my thoughts about this passing show. One reason to believe that all will be well is because wholeness is the true nature of reality. When anything gets broken in creation, the natural tendency and flow in relation to that brokenness is towards wholeness, restoration, redemption, healing, even without human intervention.

Consider your own body, “uncreated” by you. When broken, even down to the cellular level, it immediately begins to heal, often without your knowledge. In reality, all you need to do is to create conducive conditions for healing to take place. Healing was programmed into creation before you came on the scene.

According to scripture, the process of restoration, healing and redemption was immediately activated when the human family got compromised in Eden. Why? Wholeness predates the universe and has its roots in Love. We did not invent Love and it is not a religious idea, it is God’s nature. And no, God is not a religious figure, even if religion pretends to “own” it. He is Creator and “fills every thing every where with himself,” when unblocked. But we have the God-given prerogative of being able to block God.

Just like the human body strives to subdue any foreign body that enters it, the universe overwhelms brokenness with the nature of God and that has been going on before Christ was manifested in time. Many living systems in the universe fight brokenness by overwhelmingly healing it. This, I believe, is closer to the original meaning of “subdue the earth.”

Jesus brought about the immediate surrender of Saul the terrorist by overwhelming him with these words overflowing with compassion, not judgement and not a drone-delivered explosion – ”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Jesus, I believe, is the perfect imprint and the truest expression of God’s nature. He said, “I was born to bear witness to the truth.” That is not just a cute statement. He was born to reveal the nature of reality, to reveal the nature of God. He referred to himself as the truth, the embodiment of ultimate reality.

What is that nature?

He healed all the oppressed, diseased and broken people that came to him. And while on the cross, having done nothing remotely worthy of crucifixion, the embodiment of truth prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Why? Because that is the nature of reality, the nature of God. That nature is Love that is infinitely giving, restorative, redemptive and healing.

Matthew Henry said, “the plaster is wider than the wound and more healing than the wound is killing.” That is God’s nature incarnated in Christ and displayed at the cross. Imagine, the sacrificial lamb for human brokenness is none but God incarnate. That is overwhelming redemption and that, is reality. I wholly embrace this not just because I see it in scripture but also because I find it consistent with every other witness outside scripture, including the witness within me. After all, God communicates the same message through all the means by which God communicates. But to truly hear God, kindly take off your religious or “tribal” lens and approach it every time with radical amazement, as though you are coming to it for the very first time.

Now, I remind myself to face reality when I notice my thoughts begin to drift from peace. I am realizing that any deviation within me from peace is ultimately untruth because redemptive love, wholeness, abundance is the nature of reality and when there is brokenness, restoration is not only possible, everything in the universe is designed to facilitate it.

It is going to be well because it is well. Because wholeness, beauty is the nature of reality and all you need to activate it is to accept the truth, which though simple is difficult because we have become used to a broken world. Jesus suffered, bled, died and rose again to heal that brokenness and restore humanity back to reality. A mystery I find unfathomable.

Facing reality is seeing beyond this transient event and my transient thoughts into that which is true, which was true before time began, true before the situation and my thoughts about it arose, is true after the situation and my thoughts change and will remain true when time is no more. In reality, is peace. In reality, is Love. In reality, is no fear.

To face reality is to see that the context in which we live, move and have our being is love and peace and good beyond our wildest dreams. Cleaning is an apt metaphor for this. In cleaning we remove transient dirtiness leaving behind reality, a reality untouched by dirt.

If these sound too good, remember that Christ did not come here to proclaim hell on earth but news so good it is hard to believe. That is reality and that is what we need to face, not events that come and go like clouds. Reality is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God is all-vulnerable (a staggering, paradigm-shifting phrase I am borrowing from Richard Rohr) that he pours himself out to restore us back to reality. I believe, the vulnerability of God is bigger than his power. We are strongest when we are weakest. Mercy, grace and compassion break our defences and move us to tears. Evil was overcome by a slain lamb and not a roaring lion. The vulnerability of God is reality. If God was only mighty and not vulnerable, there could be no redemption, no healing, no restoration.

Learning to face reality is learning to imitate God, who lives in us and in whom we all exist including those we consider enemies. It is learning to weep for the same reasons for which God weeps. But if I am worried by what God is not worried about then I am losing touch with reality. If reality is Love and I am not, I need to face reality. Those who are in touch with reality are moved by unpleasant events that deviate from reality. Just before raising Lazarus, Jesus wept. The compassion that moved him to tears raised Lazarus.

When you are in touch with reality, compassion moves you and transformation back to wholeness is inevitable.

Merry Christmas today and tomorrow

The shepherds watching their flock on the night Christ was born were terrified when an angel suddenly stood in their midst to deliver the news. The angel’s words, “Don’t be afraid…” was not just an invitation to not be afraid of that sudden appearance but to step completely out of fear. It was not just for the shepherds but for all humans. Those shepherds reflected the fear in human hearts, past, present and future. They had probably internalized things going on around them at the time, just like today. The world we are living in and leaving for the next generation seems rather dark. I know I need that message given by the angels that night, “Fear not.”

But why? “A great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide” has just occurred, said the angel. Every human who has a reason to fear can share in this new reality. It is an event that truly brings cheer and merriment to the world for all people. It is not only meant for Christians. No one has exclusive rights to peace and joy after all. It is for everyone who belongs to the human family. And thank God, the Christ of Christmas loves Hillary Clinton and all her supporters and loves Donald Trump and all his supporters. And Christ’s followers need to follow by loving across party lines.

Christ’s entry into the world is historical and timeless. Now, we can look into the future and know that regardless of what comes, a Saviour, The man referred to by the angel as Messiah and Master has entered our world and we all now have access to him. If this Christ is true, hope has entered our world regardless of how hopeless things seem.

Christmas is not just an event to celebrate yearly but a reality to live in and live from daily. And this is a perfect time to live the reality of Christmas. This time of terror within which is causing terror without and resulting in more terror.

May Christmas not be for a day or a season. We are doomed if it is. May tomorrow also be a day when Christ’s entry into the world makes a difference in our lives and is celebrated.

We do not participate in it by buying gifts but by receiving Christ within. It is a heart thing and not a commercial or church thing, thank God. But a heart thing that gets externalized. It is joy and peace within that is expressed and shared daily neutralizing fear and its effects, resulting in more peace within and without.

Tomorrow, we can live in the reality of Christmas. Tomorrow, Christmas is needed because tomorrow, we start to be reminded of the lack of joy and peace within and about us. And like I once wrote, “hope is not needed when there is hope, hope is needed when there is no hope.” Peace is not needed when there is peace, peace is needed when there is no peace.

I love Christmas. I love the season, the celebration, the carols and the sharing of gifts and goodwill. May we go beyond that and embody Christ when and where peace and joy are needed.

Merry Christmas to you today and tomorrow.