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I can remember as a child equating the word “spiritual” as being “not real”. I did not doubt our beliefs were true. I just knew they were not going to result in anything “real”. That is because faith had nothing to do with affecting reality. It was just about not being affected by reality. We had to fight to protect and preserve our beliefs from reality.


I did believe Heaven was real and that God existed, but in terms of this life, faith was all about the mind games it took to endure our struggles and about keeping the rules that might minimize bad experiences… and maybe occasionally cause some good ones. This was not a sure thing. It just bettered our chances of good. God was reduced to the intellectual realm and there was no expectation of divine intervention. Although the Bible recorded such events in the past, any present expectations were discouraged to avoid the inevitable disappointment that would follow such false hopes. Therefore, strong emphasis was given to securing a heavenly home hereafter. Christians were left to fight a very real devil, and a world in the death throes of sin, with mere beliefs. No wonder the world sees Christians as living in some kind of fantasy. They see most of what we have to say as irrelevant to their lives.


What is the difference between biblical faith and fantasy? Fantasy is centered in our imagination. Our soul experiences what we imagine much in the same way we react to a movie. So much of our precious life energy is wasted on things we imagine that never actually happen. God’s grace is in abundant supply for our actual life experiences, but it is not to be squandered on what we imagine. 


Worry, anxiety, or fear can all produce negative fantasies. Or we can use our imagination to escape unpleasantries by dreaming. This is extremely different from what the Bible calls faith or vision.

Fantasy is not based on spiritual reality. Faith, or vision, or hope are not produced in our imagination.

They are based on our sure expectation of the spiritual truth that will be translated into our actual experiences. Regretfully, so much of our

relationship with God can actually be imagination-centered instead of spirit-centered. One can imagine having a better or worse relationship with God depending on various false indicators. Good feelings, good works, gifts of the Spirit, and positive events in our life can be thought of as signs of God’s pleasure and blessing. On the other hand, negative emotions, troubles, and disappointments over the long term can be seen as reflecting a poor relationship with God. We are certainly to expect the good promises of God to come true, but we are also warned to expect adversity as our faith will be tested.  Another way our relationship with God can be more imagination than real is through knowledge. One can form an image of God in the mind through the accumulation of knowledge. This knowledge can be very accurate. One’s theology can be scripturally correct, but there is an immeasurable difference between knowing what God is like and being like God. No amount of knowledge about God will ever produce His image in us. However, it will produce an image of Him in our minds. We can spend our entire lives trying to conform ourselves to this image. We can with our most determined and wholehearted devotion try to live up to this image. But all we will ever have is an outward appearance without any nature change. Religion tries to produce the symptoms of a relationship with God without having one. This façade is maintained through sincere effort and self-management. We can become quite adept at keeping up this masquerade, but it is at best a poor substitute for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is far beyond the psychological results of correct believing.

Faith is an absolute confidence, a sure expectation—not a wish, a pleasant thought, or being optimistic.

If you truly expect something to happen, you can actually enjoy it beforehand through your imagination. Looking forward to what you know will happen is called hope. This is the spirit affecting our soul. Our imaginations are thus rooted in our spirit, which is governed by the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Christ in us can produce a peace that keeps our heart and mind. This is far better than doing a bunch of mind games to keep our peace. We therefore are not the source of our own confidence. The witness of the Spirit to our spirit produces an assurance of our sonship that no self-convincing can yield.

Imagine the most wonderful thing about our relationship with God being our own awareness of the remarkable internal changes God has made in us. What would it be like to actually love like God loves? As fantastic as that sounds, it is no fantasy. It is why Jesus died. We, like Him, can be God’s love gift to the world. We can be ones, like Jesus, through whom God can freely demonstrate His love to the world. As He was sent by the Father, so Jesus sent us with the same mission and power. Jesus did not start His ministry until He was anointed with power, and He told us to wait until were were anointed with the same Spirit so that we might minister under a new and better covenant.


God has not left us to fantasize about what it was like to be there in Jesus’ day to see the wonderful works the Father did through Him. Jesus is here in our day wanting us to do the works He did and even greater works. The same God that was with Jesus is with us today. Christ is in us, and the Father is with us. Where do we start for such things to happen in our world? It starts with us not seeing the Kingdom of God as a different way of looking at and understanding the world. Rather, we should see the Kingdom of God as giving the world a better way of looking at and understanding God. The Father wants to impress the world with Himself through Christ in us.

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