“What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’? If real is what you can feel, smell, taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. … Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” —“Morpheus” in The Matrix
We are created in God’s image. God is eternal and unrestricted, yet we are contained in finite bodies and constrained to the time-space dimension of our universe. That hardly seems “real.” Yet our souls—the “real” part of us—were made to be timeless and unbound. It seems like a dream, and yet sounds real.
To help humanity navigate the dream-real state in which we find ourselves, God gave us incredible insights into His Word: the Bible. The answers to our dream-real questions are there if we’re willing to search for them.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “What we see when we think we are looking into the depths of Scripture may sometimes be only the reflection of our own silly faces.” The Apostle James talks about God’s Word as a mirror in his letter to the church (1:22-25). In this, I see three people.
(1) One who never looks in the mirror; one who simply accepts what’s presented to him. Again “Morpheus” comes close: “You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.” James says this is a man who attends church regularly, but never applies what he hears. In fact, he probably never even hears anything other than what he thinks the pastor said. That man is silly, shallow, and stunted in his spiritual growth (if there is even any growth at all!).
(2) One who looks in the mirror but doesn’t do anything about what he sees. He hears the Word of God at church and perhaps even reads his Bible often at home; he knows all the stories and how everything should be. But he, too, never makes any changes in his spiritual “appearance.” He is content with where he is. If he ever feels the pull of desire that there could be more real to his dream-real world, he quickly explains it away. He is at the same spiritual maturity level today as he was years ago.
(3) One who looks into the mirror, recognizes that he is silly-looking, and then does something about it. It’s hard work and often this man feels like he’s not growing because he continues to see his silly face reflected back to him. As Albert Einstein noted, “As a sphere of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it.”
James says only this third man has been freed from his dream-real constraints and is called blessed by God. Only he is beginning to understand how to make the dream real.
In which category are you? Are you brave enough to look into the depths of God’s Word and see your silly face? Are you willing to make the changes the Bible shows you to free your soul?