Our being unconscious of something does not necessarily mean that it is not real. It could just as well be that we are simply ignorant of that reality for any number of reasons. Reconciliation as described in the Bible is very real, but it must be made known and manifested in our midst if people are going to believe in it and in the One who accomplished it.
Dwayne Polk followed up this week building on the foundation laid by Sandra Unger and Paul Eddy last week. Last week Sandra and Paul set the stage to discuss reconciliation from a biblical perspective. We learned that reconciliation is God’s one initiative in the world; reconciling the world to God through Christ, and reconciling the world to itself through the healing power of God’s presence in our midst.
Dwayne reminded us of the “Matrix” which we have been using for years as an analogy for how we talk about the hidden realities that we deal with as spiritual people in a very materialistic world. Dwayne pointed out that in the movie, there were freedom fighters, and there were people to set free. But there was also a system, a structure that most people believed to be real and true, but it was ultimately a lie. A very strongly empowered lie—but a lie nonetheless. The “matrix” was feeding on the energy produced by human beings and giving them an illusion to live in. It was VERY difficult for the freedom fighters to help people see that they were being deceived because people were so accustomed to the false reality that they lived in daily. Dwayne’s point was to talk about what is “really real” and what is not.
He started with the idea of “racial reconciliation” and showed how this idea is not what is really real. As we have heard before, “race” is a socially constructed term that does not refer to any biologically significant factor that makes one person really different from another. Rather, it is a term that we use to recognize superficial differences and organize our social structures around this distinction.
The composite term “racial reconciliation” of course becomes problematic if we deconstruct the term “race.” Aside from that, this term already suffers from incoherence since—at least in America—there never was a time when different “races” were related in a way that people would want to be restored to! When was the golden era for “race relations” in the US? It is for these reasons that Dwayne expressed dislike for the term “racial reconciliation.”
So what is really real? Dwayne took a quick visual poll and ascertained that most people in our congregation do in fact believe that at least one thing that is really real is that there is a spiritual war going on and that there is a mastermind that we identify as the enemy in this war. Dwayne found this belief to be very interesting because this is a belief that the vast majority of people in the United States do not hold. And yet here we sit saying we believe this. Dwayne had us do a bit of a mental experiment. Imagine yourself trying to talk to a non-Christian—or at least—non-Evangelical Christian friend or family member about your belief in spiritual warfare. Talk to them about how you cast out demons and how you pray against the powers and principalities of the air and so forth. What will they think? If you tell this to your psychologist what would she or he think? Yes, they have categories for delusions like this don’t they? So we can understand the stress, the frustration and the anxiety of being rejected and having your testimony about these things, that are VERY real to you, completely dismissed and denied.
Now think about another person with a testimony like this:
A young Latino man is driving through a wealthy suburb and gets pulled over for no apparent reason. The officer says, “ I was just checking to see if every thing is okay.” And it happens more than once that night.
Or, an Asian-American woman applies for a job and gets interviewed, but feels that something was just a little “off” in the interview dialogue, she gets the impression that she doesn’t look the way the company would prefer and feels that her appearance cost her that job.
Or, a Native American girl has a hard time finding role models who can inspire her in her life because all the women she sees look different that she does. She finds it difficult to identify with people she understands have done her people deep harm.
Dwayne’s challenge was clear. Will we hear these voices? Will we make some attempt to enter into their reality? Or will we respond like the secular therapist who might humor the patient, but then quickly diagnose the delusion? What’s really real? Could it be that these testimonies describe something really real that most of us don’t experience first hand? Just as many people don’t experience spiritual warfare first hand?
Our being unconscious of something does not necessarily mean that it is not real. It could just as well be the case that we are simply ignorant of that reality for any number of reasons. The problem with being human is that we rarely assume that we might be ignorant; we tend to assume we “know” what is really going on. This is a dangerous way to think in a world as complex and big as ours.
Dwayne went on to describe some things that are real:
1. Oppressive systems like classism, sexism, ableism, racism, etc. are real.
2. Spiritual warfare and the power of the enemy are real.
3. The devil is real.
Fortunately, that’s not ALL that is real. Christ and his work on our behalf are real. The reconciliation that Christ accomplished to destroy all of the above is also real. Reconciliation as described in the Bible is very real, but must be made known and manifested in our midst if people are going to believe in it and in the One who accomplished it. The fact that WE are God’s freedom fighters is real! (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Cor. 12 tells us we ARE the body of Christ for the world!) Dwayne offered three ways we can move in this direction:
1. Recognize and stay aware of the battle.
2. Get more information on this “matrix” that we live in.
3. Do not despair! We have the victory in Christ!
Finally, all of this comes together in what God has given to WHC as its vision. Individually and corporately we are to be reflecting God’s love and advancing God’s Kingdom, working against the systemic, demonic structures found in the kingdom of darkness all around us.
Hide Extended Summary