Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Are Things Really? Shifting From Living In The Natural To Living In The Spiritual (Part One)

At a gathering recently, someone in the group shared that she and her husband had been trying to live with an approach that they phrased simply, "how is it really?". When they shared this, it seemed to be very similar to what I've been trying to live out for the past couple of years in my own life. It's the mindset that what my eyes see is not always what the fullness of the reality is. It can be quite general, and it can also be quite specific. For example, I may be sick in my body, but according to the Word of God, I am healed. I may have no money in my pocket, but in light of eternal things, I am rich. In a moment, things may look dire or they may look incredibly great – nonetheless, I choose to always see what the LORD is doing in the midst of it all, whether it looks like I think it should or not.

One word sums it up best – perspective.

For me, it's much more than just putting a "positive" spin on circumstances. It's setting my mind on things above, rather than earthly things. It's living a life that activates the mind of Christ that I was given at my salvation. It's living according to what the Word of God says, no matter what the reality is in the natural. It's a life that doesn't settle for what I see or what I hear, in the natural. I'm fully aware that what is before me is not the whole story.

What too few Christians seem to understand is that those who are truly in Christ have been given two sets of eyes to see. We have our physical eyes, which take no faith, no imagination, no expectation and little effort. We have also been given spiritual eyes to see things in the realm that parallels this one. Interestingly, just as in the physical it is in the spiritual. In order to see, one must open their "eyes" to see. In order to read this article, you had to choose to open your eyes to see it. Your will, your desire, was to read this. Likewise, you must desire to see what is in the spirit. You must be willing to open your spiritual eyes and look about. It is quite simple, really. My eyes, in both cases only view what I choose for them to. If I don't want to see something, I simply don't look at it.

The spiritual realm has somehow been deemed as some sci-fi, fantasy-land that Believers need not venture into. Discussions of what the Bible has many accounts of would most likely be deemed as new age or mysticism now within the Church. Does the Body of Christ even believe in the supernatural anymore? Not messengers of heaven that bring you personal wealth or angels that drop fairy dust on us, but I mean the simple fact that there is a realm all about us that is not seen with physical eyes! Do we really believe this anymore? Does anyone ever even delve into the realm of the spirit and see what is going on there? I think, perhaps, we've just lost sight of the fact that we are spiritual beings. We're so fascinated with our flesh that there is simply no room for any other view. Our advancing of worldly agendas so consumes us that many Christians will never even experience a supernatural life while here on the earth. Even Christianity is primarily about carnal, temporal comforts. Million dollar media, elaborate campuses, comfy chairs and cozy environments - you know the drill. Natural senses are awakened and entertained yet the spirit man that is within us remains in slumber.

Here's a little pop quiz to help you asses your current approach to some daily circumstances and how you view them.

You're in line at the supermarket and the person in front of you is obviously angry, they're cursing and they're bordering on being violent. Do you gasp and wonder how anyone could act in such a ghastly manner or do you ask the LORD what has caused them to be so troubled and possibly even encourage them?

A business venture goes south and you lose money. Do you become anxious and worry or do you trust your Father to take care of you because you understand that He is your Provider anyway and it's all His?

You're busy doing a task that is under time constraints and you come across a person in need. Do you stop and help them, seeing them in the midst of your busy-ness? Do you eagerly see past your natural tasks and duties, looking beyond the demands of this world?

Things get all chaotic in the world, more specifically, our nation. Is your response dread and fear or do you hear what the Spirit is saying about it all and seek the LORD for wisdom knowing that He has a much higher plan set in motion that may not look like what you think should unfold?

There is an accident or something detrimental that happens to you or your family. Is it all automatically deemed an "attack of the devil" or do you step back and praise God in the midst of it all because you choose to rest in the fact that nothing happens in this life without His consent?

You see, perspective is key!

Let's quickly look at a couple of biblical examples on each side of this coin. First, we let's look at Elisha talking with his servant in 2 Kings, chapter 6. The servant was in distress as he informed Elisha of the great army that had been assembled against them. He, likely riddled with great fear and trembling because of what he saw in the natural, asked Elisha, "What shall we do?". Elisha's response shows us the power that resides in seeing with spiritual eyes and not solely relying on what is fact in the natural.

"[Elisha] answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

First of all, Elisha was not ignorant of the physical circumstances. He did not forsake wisdom and just hope for the best. But what he did do was see the bigger, deeper picture. He saw both sides of his reality – the physical and the spiritual. It worth noting that Elisha's seeing in the spirit did not change the reality of the physical circumstances (those who were against him were still a legitimate threat to him). However, when the servant saw this great supernatural army that was ready to do battle on their behalf, his perspective likely changed dramatically! What his physical eyes beheld was likely overwhelmed by what the LORD allowed His spiritual eyes to see. I want to walk as Elisha walked, with spiritual eyes to see what is going on, no matter what my physical eyes see!

The flipside here could be well portrayed by the "grasshopper men" found in Numbers 13. When Moses sent them into Canaan to explore the land, they returned forty days later and reported what they saw with their natural eyes. "'We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.' Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, 'We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.' But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.' So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, 'The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight'."

Boy does this paint a clear picture of perspective! The majority chose to follow what their natural eyes saw and they allowed it to dictate their actions. They did not see as Elisha did, they saw the situation through carnal eyes of doubt and fear. Perhaps most important of all is what the result was of this "natural vision" report.

"Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?'"

Oh the dread! The agony! The horror! (smile) You can literally sense the defeat that was fueled by the lack of spiritual perception by those who went out to inspect the land! I wonder what would have happened if they had come back and raved about the beauty and bounty of the land and forged ahead without the "but" part of the story. Doubt and faithlessness spreads like wildfire! Is it not the same for us today? "Well, the Word of God says I'm healed, but…" "Well, I know that I'm supposed to have faith and believe but…" "I know that God is in control but…" Some things never change.


Daughter of Wisdom said...

Great post. As Christians, we are far too hung up on our physical circumstances, and many times deny our spiritual circumstance. We can see this with the ongoing economic crisis. Many Christians are filled with fear and despair, as if God has forsaken us, and yet, many of those who are crying out in fear, do not lack in material possessions. Let them live one day in a third world country, and then they will see what it really means to go without.


Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: You're right. There can be fascination with only one world. The one that is eternal or that one that is quickly passing away. Sadly, the latter gets the most attention because it's the one we can touch, taste and see with our natural senses.

We must "hone" our spiritual senses and learn to see in a new way.