As Christians we live in two realities, the reality of living in this crazy world, and the reality of living in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). But now that we’re Christians, does our heavenly reality override the reality we’re living in here?
In other words, can we just ignore what’s happening in this crazy world because we’re already living in our heavenly world? I mean, why get all depressed, worried and frustrated by the craziness in this world when Jesus has already lifted us into his world?
He also keeps us safe too, so “the evil one does not touch us,” 1 John 5:18 – so what craziness in this world needs to stress us out? We also “know that we are children of God,” verse 19, so we have our heavenly Father looking after us too. That’s the reality we live in every day, summarized by Paul in Colossians 3:1, that “Since you’ve been raised with Christ, set your hearts (and minds) on things above….not on earthly things,” verse 2.
So, Paul’s saying, concentrate our attention on our heavenly reality, where we are with Jesus, who told his disciples in John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” I imagine Paul would ask us, then, “Do you realize you live in the reality of that verse all the time? And if you don’t – and you wish you could – then Jesus is ready and waiting to answer your wish.”
No wonder Paul was so adamant about getting our minds off “earthly things,” when this other reality of what our Father made possible in Jesus is dangling in front of us as well. So why not concentrate on that and let the craziness of this world go by?
We could, but John also wrote in 1 John 5, that “We know that the whole world is under the control of the evil one,” verse 19. So, as Christians, we’re fully aware of that reality too. We’re not blind to the obvious fact that malevolent forces are at work all over the globe, and we’re living right in the thick of them.
Do we need to know how these malevolent forces work, then, so we’re not caught out by them, or drawn in by them, or buried in despair by them? Yes, John says in 1 John 4:1, when he writes, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
So there are spirit forces at work which come up with all sorts of ideologies being promoted as truth, which look and sound really good. And it’s amazing how we fall for them. Even when scary demagogues demand compliance or else, we still go along with them. It doesn’t seem to matter how much they lie or wreck the very fabric of our society, they get away with it. And that, according to John, is not something we Christians can casually dismiss.
That’s because, as he continues in 1 John 5:20, we also “know that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, so that we know him who is true.” According to John, Jesus came to help us “understand” what is true and what is false, so we come to know why HE is so true. And that comes from testing the spirits, or in our terms, grasping the comparison between the false ideas of this crazy world and what Jesus taught, so we see why Jesus’ version of truth is so much the better one.
We could, of course, ignore the craziness because we live in another reality. But Jesus left us down here in this reality for a reason. It’s to get some exercise in testing while we’re here, so that we’ve “trained ourselves to distinguish good from evil,” Hebrews 5:14.