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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Monday-Virtual Reality

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

 

Colossians 2:16,17

 

One of the really big hot buttons today is Virtual Reality. It’s where computer technology puts you into an imaginary world. It seems like it’s real, but it’s not. You put on a special helmet or goggles so that all you see is what’s coming from software. Sometimes there’s other pieces that you hold, making the experience even more real.

 

You may not have thought about virtual reality much, or even spent anything on it yet. But that’s not stopping companies from paying attention to it. It is estimated that annual virtual reality sales will be approaching $230 billion by the end of the decade. Now, you’re probably thinking that there wasn’t anything even close to virtual reality in the first century. But the Apostle Paul would disagree with you. And not just a little bit. He’d be all up in your face about the virtual reality that was all over the place in his day.

 

You see, a lot of people had put their faith in the things that they could see. Hear. Feel. These were the religious customs that they followed. They put all their faith and trust in the ceremony, in the doing.

 

There were all sorts of holidays, feasts, and traditions. Some of them required people to travel great distances on pilgrimages to holy cities. There were some that had great details about how to eat. How to dress. In addition to eating and drinking, Paul specifically points to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath. There were lost of details that God had given his people about these special times.

 

God’s people thought that since God told them to do it, that these rules had to be followed forever. Everyone had to follow suit. After all, would God tell them to do something just for a while? Wouldn’t that be the same as God changing his mind? But they missed the point. The physical world wasn’t the real world after all. It was only the virtual reality of what really mattered. The spiritual universe is what really matters, not this temporary, physical one.

 

Think about it for a minute. God is what? A spirit. And how is God to be worshiped? In spirit and truth[1]. That means true reality, not anything fake or virtual, is spiritual. Last time anyone checked, neither spirit or truth had anything physical about them. All the religious rules and regulations weren’t the reality. They were just a shadow. And we all know what creates a shadow. Not the light, but something that blocks the light. A shadow has nothing that you can grab onto. A shadow isn’t real, only the absence of light.

 

At best, all these laws, celebrations, and regulations could do was point to something else. They were arrows that were to direct our attention to the spiritual reality found in who God is.

 

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

 

Hosea 6:6

 

Why do you think Jesus quotes this to the Pharisees that saw him eating with tax collectors and sinners in Matthew’s house[2]? Was it to earn brownie points with them? Or to somehow make them feel more comfortable with him? Jesus uses the Hebrew Scriptures to point out that while the laws are good, they are not what’s important. They are only a shadow of the reality of knowing God himself. They point to God, they are not God in themselves.

 

This can be a tough pill to swallow if all you’ve know for your entire life was following rules that someone else made up. And you need to know that I get it. I was raised in that kind of environment. It was all about what you did. Following the external rules. And boy had I been able to follow rules. I could do what was right, what was expected, with the best of them. But inside my heart, I was lightyears away from God. I thought I could control him by doing things.

 

But when a good friend told me that God loved me, not for what I did but because of who he was, it broke my heart heart. I saw for the first time that God wasn’t as interested in my actions as he was in my heart being broken before him[3]. Trying to earn God’s favor and forgiveness only leads to guilt and shame. But, on the other hand, godly sorrow brings real repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret[4]. Godly sorrow is where we tell God that we’ve got nothing and that Jesus is the only one who can really save.

 

All the rules, celebrations, feasts, and religious practices are virtual reality at best. Jesus isn’t virtual anything. He’s the real thing. The ultimate reality. The reality we were made for. The only one who can fill our lives with peace, purpose, and love. He’s true reality. Jesus Christ. He’s the real deal.

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • What’s virtual about how we see reality?

  • How is God’s view of reality different than what we see and hear?

  • List and explain God’s rules about life that are hardest to believe and obey.


[1] John 4:24

[2] John 9:13

[3] Psalm 15:17

[4] 2 Corinthians 7:10

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