If we are to live in reality, that means that we need to see things for what they truly are, which starts by seeing ourselves for who we really are. Because we were born in this world and this world is what we interact with, it is easy to believe that we are people of this world. That being the case, the Bible has some very interesting things to say about who we are:
We Are Pilgrims
The Bible states that people are more than just their physical representations, but are actually spirits with a body. We are not of this world, but like Abraham, we are pilgrims, headed to a land whose builder and maker is God.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. – Hebrews 11:8-11
A.W. Tozer states: “Abraham had faith and was able to carry on because he could see that which was not seen and could not be seen. And in so doing, these Christians mentioned in 1 Peter experienced the invisible so vividly and so satisfyingly that they were able to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
The truth is that we don’t belong here, we’re citizens of another location. We’re visitors, strangers, or aliens, whatever you want to call us, and because of that, we can rightly claim that this world is not our home, we’re just passing through.
2 Corinthians 5:16 and following gives us the key to understanding this truth:
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
This passage states that the believer has been made a new creature—the old has passed and the new has come. This is further underscored by the new mission given the believer—he is now an ambassador. The Christian mother at home with her kids is an ambassador. The Christian factory worker is an ambassador. The female Christian executive is an ambassador. All believers are ambassadors—which we understand as a representative from one land to another land.
But besides being an ambassador, we are all called to the ministry of reconciliation. What is this ministry? It is the ministry of telling others about what Christ did on the cross for everyone—the Good News that there is salvation from sin! Paul states in 2 Corinthians what Jesus ends His earthly ministry with—that we are all called to go and tell all the world that there is salvation.
We Are Running a Race
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
One of my family’s favorite games to play is the game of LIFE. It’s always a race to see who can get to the end the fastest, and it’s interesting to see what twist and turns life takes. Like the game of LIFE, our lives are races that started the day that we were born and finish the day that we die.
The believer has a goal in life, a way to define success, and it’s not the same as the world’s. God, the giver of life, set out the rules, and He alone can state what a successful life looks like. Those that are running a good race, are running toward the high calling of Christ. This doesn’t mean perfection. I’m not perfect, your pastor’s not perfect, Mother Theresa wasn’t perfect, etc. This means that we’re striving to be the best that we can for the glory of God.
Just like running a race, the believer sometimes must set aside every weight—and this sometimes means something that may seem good, or others may seem to enjoy.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14
Paul stated that because of what Christ has done, he will never stop his pursuit of that high calling. He strives never to see another reality and to never take his eyes off the prize.
We are Dead to the World
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
The next thing the Bible tells believers is that they are dead to the world. Paul states that we died with Christ at the cross, and we are now alive in Him—or He lives in us. Does this mean that we no longer have to struggle with sin? Paul covers this as well.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. – Romans 7:18-19
Paul states that though he wants to do right, he does not always do right—his body wars against his spirit doing things that we should not. This is the reason that Paul states that he dies daily, and that Jesus told us that we have to take up our cross daily and follow Him. It’s something that we consistently need to point back to.
We are Slaves to Christ
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:22-23
Slavery is a bad word in modern times because of its link to the slave trade and the American War Between the States (or Civil War). However, Paul here states that the reality is that all men and women are slaves. We are born slaves to sin, and salvation makes us slaves to Christ. There is no middle ground, no opportunity to not choose sides.
In chapter 7 of Romans, Paul compares the slavery each person is under to the way that a wife is under ownership of her husband and is free to remarry when her husband dies. Christ is our spiritual husband and we are the bride of Christ. We belong to Him.
A Christian Cannot Be Harmed
The last thing about our reality is that a believer can not be harmed. This is a weird statement to make, because surely the body can be harmed through all sorts of means. Possessions can be lost, family can turn away, jobs can be lost, and all of these things, but like a lot of other places in the New Testament, what is needed is an understanding of perspective.
In Christ, the believer has everything. God has stated that even if family leaves you, He never will. Paul stated that to live was Christ, to die was gain. If this is true to the believer, what harm can be done?
This is one of the difficult concepts, as no believer wishes himself harm, or seeks physical pain, and yet if a believer understands the reality—that he is at war with forces more powerful than himself, the prince of the power of the air—he cannot expect things to be easy for him.
Scripture from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.