Do you recognize that just as there is a physical reality, there is also a spiritual one? Have you ever personally experienced it? These days, of course, the word “spiritual” is used quite loosely; people will say something like, “It was a spiritual experience,” referring to anything particularly moving or intense–watching a sunset, connecting with a song, or even eating a great meal. And as pleasant as these might be, none of them are spiritual in nature–they’re about as physical as it gets! Yet there really also is a spiritual reality that we can experience, as well as the physical one–but only under certain circumstances. Do you know what it is? Do you want to?
“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV)
We human beings tend to discount that which we cannot see, but this has frequently worked to our disadvantage. For years we didn’t believe in–weren’t even aware of–germs: multiple microorganisms visible only under a microscope. Yet we fell ill from their deleterious effects nonetheless. Neither had we quite gotten a handle on the various noxious gases present under certain circumstances–yet the unfortunate person who found himself in a confined space with them died nonetheless. No; not believing in something–not having scientifically proven its existence to our satisfaction–doesn’t negate its effects on us. And so it is with the spiritual world. Just as with bacteria and viruses or gases, because we can’t see or touch or taste or smell it, we think it isn’t there–that it’s a figment of the imaginations of a certain peculiar segment of society. It isn’t.
The contrary is actually true: the spiritual exists, but most people are oblivious to it because they prefer it not to exist. Why? It’s inconvenient, and an obstacle to how they want to live. So when they experience that rare moment of doubt that perhaps–just maybe–there’s more there than they have thought, they quickly and superficially assure themselves it’s not real and keep living as if it isn’t. But that’s a dangerous gamble–because the eternal death that is the consequence of ignoring spiritual issues is far more certain than potential exposure to infections and noxious gases.
With germs and gases, we can certainly pretend they don’t exist and hope nothing happens–we can stop washing our hands, refuse to disinfect wounds, and not get vaccinated for basic illnesses; we can take down our carbon monoxide detectors. But the effects can be catastrophic, and ignoring their existence doesn’t make them not there.
In the same way, ignoring the spiritual doesn’t make it not real, or exempt us in some way from the consequences of refusing to deal with its existence. An ostrich who hides its head in the sand only deludes itself. No, the spiritual exists. How can I know this? Well, because of several reasons.
First, because of what those who have seen and experienced it have said. The entire Bible is a testimony to the spiritual, but it makes many so uncomfortable they mimic the ostrich and hide their head in the proverbial sand. Rather than taking the logical action and setting aside time to read through it personally, they discredit it based on what others have said, or what they’ve heard, or what their friends believe, or what they’ve read online–because it was a long time ago, or the translation they’re reading is archaic, or someone made fun of it, or whatever other flimsy excuse they can find. In other words, they refuse to confront eyewitness testimony.
The second reason we can know the spiritual exists is because of what you will experience in your own self the very moment you come to believe in Jesus–the instant you understand your guilt before God and ask for forgiveness. It’s the radiant, wonderful, intense feeling of God’s love and acceptance and fellowship with Him that seems to center somewhere in your inner physical self that you cannot and will not ever experience apart from Him, and that is impossible to comprehend until you’ve known it. You may not feel it intensely every time you pray, but the more you look for Christ Jesus, the more of Himself He will give you. “Come near to God, and God will come near to you…clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.” (James 4:8 NCV)
Yet, you won’t experience this yourself personally until you come to faith in Jesus, so using it as a proof is only effective after the fact–it will confirm your faith, it will convince you that you were right to believe, but only after you’ve done it–which makes the testimony of others so much more valuable as proof, until the moment you know Him yourself too!
God has told us in the Bible, in fact, that “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) No one ever comes to faith in Jesus by avoiding the message of the Bible: by not reading it on your own, not going to church, not listening to podcasts or sermons or Christian radio–that is, in fact, the best strategy if your goal is to keep yourself from believing in Jesus and insulate yourself from knowing spiritual things! But why is it important? Why does it matter that you come to know Christ and gain Him–that you experience the spiritual yourself?
It is important, because until you do, you are incomplete. We are meant to experience Christ in our spirits, as well as to live in the physical–without Him, there is an emptiness, a sadness, a vacancy in our lives–a void. Just look at the suicides of famous people you would think have it all–celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain, designer Kate Spade, and others–clearly, it’s not enough. Our physical bodies–in some way we cannot explain–have this need, and until Christ Himself meets it by taking up residency in us through His Spirit, we will remain incomplete. God, in fact, calls it being dead spiritually:
“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-7 NLT)
Do you see?! Do you finally understand the incredible experience God has in store for you through Jesus–through faith in Him? Come to Him! What can you lose; you have everything to gain!!!
Forgive me and accept me; let me know You and that which is so much more than just this physical world! Fill me with Yourself!! Amen.