Last week we looked at how the Bible described this natural physical world as created, as temporary, and as passing away; and we pointed to a reality bigger and more permanent an “unseen realm”. But even with that stated some of our views of the supernatural realm are tremendously distorted. They have become distorted by our cultural influences and experiences and strangely they have become distorted by some church-based narratives and stories. When we think of angels or spirits many people tend to think of them as ghosts or phantasms… filmy, vaporous, or lacking substance: perhaps we’d do well to say “not-quite-real” or perhaps “less real”. The reasoning for this is that we are engrossed in the physical… anything not physical seems less than real. But why should this be? Because we are presently bound so extensively to the physical.
Aristotle is said to have asked whether a fish knows it is wet. That’s a great question! The only way one expects a fish to understand its condition in the water is to have some experience or information from outside of the water. Think of a goldfish in its bowl. What must feel “most real” to the goldfish? Certainly, in the tiny mind of the goldfish, all of the world consists of water and some sort of boundary with blurry shapes beyond it. Imagine you ask the goldfish in such a condition to describe something outside of its condition… surely those things whatever they might be are less real than water… surely their experiences are less than and subordinate to the structure that holds the water. To imagine that the water and bowl which comprise the goldfish’s whole world are somehow less than what is outside would be unthinkable or unimaginable for the goldfish! And yet anyone who has experienced that which is outside of the bowl, knows that the whole of the goldfish’s world is a very small and insignificant world after all. Our physical reality is like the goldfish bowl. Of course, we can’t see it for what it is; we’re in it! And yet we have information from the outside that suggests not only that there is an “outside,” but that that agencies-of-great-power exist there. Last week we discussed the Bible’s description of a reality beyond the bowl, this week we will begin to focus on persons and agencies beyond the bowl: participant powers in the unseen arena. Come Sunday ready to discuss the Devil and demons. Before you can fight an enemy, you must know and recognize your enemy.