The Duty of Living in the Reality of the Supernatural
"Doctrine is important," writes Francis Schaeffer in chapter five of his book true spirituality, "but it is not an end in itself. There is to be an experiential reality, moment by moment… in the power of the crucified and risen Christ, through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by faith."
Yes, yes, yes… we nod our heads, agreeing with such a fine statement of what ought to be the daily experience of one who follows Christ. But is that our experience? Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that little by little, the reality of the supernatural is all too easily lost in our generation?
What seems to elude most Christians is a daily experience of living in the reality of the supernatural. We can polish and refine our doctrinal statements and discuss the finer points of what's going on in the world and how to fix our institutions and churches until the cows come home. But what often gets crowded out of the picture is the simple reality of God. When that happens, the world squeezes us into its way of thinking. To quote Schaeffer on this...
"Our generation is overwhelmingly naturalistic [i.e. meaning everything is the result of natural causes in a closed system]. If we are not careful, even though we say we are Biblical Christians and supernaturalists, the naturalism of our generation tends to come in upon us."
Schaeffer compares this creeping in of the world's naturalistic mindset to barnacles that grow on the bottom of ships, creating drag on vessels that were meant to efficiently cut through the water. So, as an antidote, he points us to classic Scriptures that teach the nearness of the supernatural all around us.
For example, Luke's passage on the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31) says that their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus, then He ceased to be seen by them. Paraphrasing Schaeffer: "It wasn't that Christ was no longer there, but that they simply did not see Him any longer. John 20:19 and 26 gives the same emphasis."
Another classic text that Schaeffer takes us to is 2 Kings 6:16 where Elisha is surrounded by an enemy, and the young man standing with him is overcome with fear. "Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
"The supernatural was not something far off; it was there. All the young man needed was to have his eyes opened to see it. As soon as we remove the supernaturalness of the universe, all we have left is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in which religion is viewed simply as a sociological tool… a mere psychological mechanism."
Schaeffer rightly notes that this is precisely where the battle rages today. The naturalists are determined to get rid of the supernatural, to argue against it, that it is not there. Therefore…
"…we have thrust upon us the high calling and the duty to live in light of the existence of the two parts of the universe, the seen and the unseen parts, in the realization that the "heavenlies" are not far off. They are about us here."
Losing the reality of the supernatural is no small, insignificant detail. It is not an optional feature of true spirituality. When it is absent from our experience, all we are left with is a dead sociological tool; a mere psychological mechanism for manipulating ourselves and other people. As the Apostle Paul said, "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 1:1)
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Are there any barnacles of naturalism built up on the hull of your "ship" lately? Ask God for renewed eyes of faith as you dig deeper into these Scriptures…