I don’t always believe God is real.
Kind of shocking, isn’t it? But let me present the evidence.
If I believed God was real, I’d believe in what His Son said. I’d take it to heart. I wouldn’t doubt it. I’d have what we â€˜believers’ call â€˜faith’.
Not believing God is real is more common than you think. Jesus had to deal with it from his followers all the time. Jesus was with these people day in and day out. He did things men couldn’t do. He turned water into wine. He healed the sick. He fed thousands of people from a few loaves and fishes – on two occasions. He walked across the Sea of Galilee on a stormy night. And those around him just scratched their heads like it was some sort of magic trick. Things like that just weren’t a part of their reality.
They were miracles. Webster’s says a miracle is: “a supernatural event regarded as due to divine action, e.g. one of the acts worked by Christ which revealed his divinity.”
In other words – something that can’t happen unless God does it or empowers it to be done. They’re not miracles to God; they’re just a part of His reality. Jesus did miracles so those who witnessed them would understand the reality of God’s kingdom.
Jesus said this: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, â€˜Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:18-22)
But I can’t throw a mountain into the sea and I don’t receive everything I ask for in prayer. Jesus said that if I believed, both would be possible. If I don’t believe I can do them, then I don’t believe in the reality Jesus was talking about.
Jesus understood the reality of God’s kingdom. He was sent from God; which means he came from God. He was with God in the beginning. He believed in God because God was his Father. And as God’s Son, he is One with His Father.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)
That’s difficult for us to wrap our human minds around.
Here’s a simpler concept. I have a father. I believe in my father because I lived with him. He wasn’t just a story or an idea; he was real. I sat in his lap. He held my hand. I listened to him when he talked and he listened to me. That we’re now separated by two different worlds, he in his eternal and me still here in this temporal, doesn’t make him less real. The reality of my father’s existence didn’t become myth when he changed location. I believe in the reality of my father because I experienced his existence first hand.
Jesus experienced the existence of his Father first hand. Jesus believed in God because he shared the reality of His existence.
Another way to define â€˜miracle’ may be, “the reality of God’s world invading the reality of man’s.” If you think about it, it can also be a definition of the Son of God coming to live with men. The life of Jesus on earth was “the reality of God’s world invading the reality of man’s.” It still is.
When Jesus lived as a man on this earth, he lived as a man. The reality of this world was as real to Jesus as to any other man. Water was water when he drank it, not wine; one fish and one loaf were one fish and one loaf, not a thousand. Water was wet and when he left the boat before it reached the shore, he sank or swam.
But there is a greater reality. It coexists with the reality of this world. To be more accurate, this world’s reality coexists with it. This greater reality is God’s kingdom. It existed in eternity past and it will exist in eternity future. It supersedes the reality of this world both in power and in extent. It will be the reality long after this world fades into cosmic dust.
Jesus came from that reality to live in this one. He came to bring that greater reality to man. Water is water, wine is wine; but at his command water was changed to wine. His reality invaded ours. Five loaves of bread and two fish are enough to feed five men. But by breaking them and giving thanks he fed five thousand men and uncounted women and children until they were full. His reality invaded ours.
Those who witnessed his miracles didn’t understand what was really happening. Feeding thousands from a few loaves and fishes was a wonderful, incomprehensible trick, but it wasn’t reality to them. The only reality they comprehended was that their bellies were full. They followed Jesus so he would do the trick again, so that they would be fed again. They didn’t understand that God’s reality had just invaded theirs.
“I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give you.” (John 6:26-27)
They didn’t understand. “What work do we have to do to get this bread?”
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
“What miraculous sign will you do?” They were looking for more bread.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
Now they didn’t want to understand. They just wanted bread.
In private he explained the two realities to his disciples. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” (John 6:63-64)
Jesus understood the reality of this world and of his Father’s world. He knew which one led to eternal life and which one led to death. His miracles were glimpses into the reality of his Father’s world, where commanding the storm to cease and turning water into wine weren’t miracles, they were just … reality; the normal scope of authority and power in God’s kingdom.
He wanted his disciples to see just how normal his miracles were in God’s kingdom and just how available God’s kingdom was in the midst of this world’s reality.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will even do greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
We live in two worlds. One lasts for only a moment and is passing away as we experience it. The other lasts into eternity and never passes away. That we live in this world is a reality we cannot escape. But the reality of the next world is greater. Because Christ invaded the reality of this world we have been freed to experience God’s kingdom while we are still living here.Â We live in the reality of God’s kingdom now. The power of that world supersedes the power of this one. Let’s not allow the reality of this world to so enslave us that we fail to live in reality of the one to come.
May all of your mountains be cast into the sea.