Living in Two Realms (Or, Becoming a 3D Christian)
Remember the old 3D glasses? You know, the ones made of flimsy, white cardboard with a bright red lens on one side and a bright blue one on the other? It’s crazy to think that those cheap little things are what made a movie pop off the screen. Apparently, going from 2D to 3D wasn’t all that hard – as long as you had those two crinkly, coloured lenses on the end of your nose. I remember that, as a kid, I would mess around with how the movie would look by using just one lens at a time. Looking with just one eye would make the picture go askew and take away the 3D effect. Not to mention if you did it enough, it would give you a bit of a headache!
I think there is a parallel to be made here with Christianity. Just as you need both lenses to see the movie in 3D and get the full effect, so Christians need to see the realities of both realms they live in: the physical and the spiritual. Looking at life through one realm without the other leaves the believer living flat, existing in a 3-dimensional world with only a 2-dimensional perspective.
As I see it, most Christians are prone to see only the physical realm. We engage the world around us with our five senses and, sadly, behave as if that is all there is to life. It is a peculiar thing, considering we worship a Spirit Being who transcends time and space. One would think that believers would be sensitive to the spiritual realm more than others – or, at least, somewhat intentionally conscious of its existence. Yet I don’t think this is usually the case. We tend to be just as unspiritual as a non-believer is.
This is a major problem for several reasons. One, it makes for prayerless Christians who are relying far too much on human efforts to live life and conquer sin. Two, it diminishes the glory that God gets from our blessings in life. We chalk them up to luck or hard work instead of the grace of God. Third, it leaves believers unguarded against demonic attack. Certainly our great enemy is ready to strike at the believer who has left his armour at home. Fourth, it loosens the realities of heaven and hell, and turns our focus towards life at the present. This is a double-whammy, because it causes us to both be slack in our pursuit of eternal rewards while also being slack in steering others towards deliverance from eternal suffering. Fifth, it makes the mundane tasks of life feel meaningless, when in reality every action is an act of worship, either to God or the gods of this world.
There are perhaps other reasons why carnal faith is a serious issue, but suffice it to say that it is something that we all need to fight against. There is more than just a physical universe we inhabit. There is a spiritual realm that exists all around us, which indeed we are even a part of. There is God, angels, the devil, demons, heaven, hell, the souls of every person who has ever lived, and numerous other unseen realities that have just as much effect on earth as a tsunami or hurricane does. We simply cannot overlook the part that the spiritual realm plays in influencing the physical.
There are a number of examples from Scripture that highlight this point. Here are a few that jump to mind.
- Daniel’s answer to prayer is delayed 21 days because of a battle in the spiritual realm (Daniel 10:10-14).
- A woman is unable to stand up straight because she is afflicted by a demon, and Jesus delivers her and subsequently heals her (Luke 13:10-13).
- Samson is filled with the Spirit of God, which enables him to have supernatural strength (Judges 14:19).
- The turmoil on earth during the coming last days of mankind are directly caused by heavenly activity (Revelation 16).
In a way, you could list every event in the entire Bible as an example of the mingling of the natural and supernatural realms. The two realms are so intertwined it is impossible to pull one apart from the other. That is the reality of the world in which we live, yet how many of us let that truth have its due influence on us?
Everyone is living in two realms, but the Christian is uniquely equipped to live in them as one who is informed. The careful reading of the Bible opens our eyes to the supernatural realities all around us, and as we submit our minds and wills to the truth we will become people more able to see things as they really are. Not that we should become people who are so spiritual that we fail to give credence to the physical, for that would be an equal error in the other direction. God has given the laws of nature and physics and we are wise to believe in them. But the key is that we add the supernatural lens to our vision that is already well-focused on the natural. Metaphorically, we put on our double-lensed glasses and see the world in 3D as we were designed to do.
The Word of God is loaded with appeals to become 3D Christians. Paul directs in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18…
 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
I would argue that the key to making these commands a reality is to become so saturated in the Bible and so in-tune with the presence of God each day through prayer that you cannot help but have your mind set on things above. The problem, as I would diagnose it, is that we only give ourselves tiny doses of God. He is a part of our lives rather than the centre of our lives. God is one topic among many. Instead, he is to be the source and substance of our daily lives. As I sang in church this morning, “Without You I am nothing”. As we become God-people through prayer and the Word, then life will start to pop the way it’s supposed to, and unseen supernatural realities will begin to seem less like crazy things from times of old and more like obvious explanations for everyday occurrences.
I close with this story. In 2 Kings 6, God’s people were surrounded by a monstrous enemy nation. Destruction seemed inevitable, and panic set in among the people. Yet, the prophet Elisha was able to see what others could not: that God had sent the armies of heaven to fight for them. After Elisha prayed for one of his faithless friends, the man’s eyes were opened to see the mountains full of horses and chariots of fire. In short, his vision went from being 2D to 3D, and he saw the world as it really was. May Elisha’s prayer for that man be the same for ourselves.
O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.