We really are living in parallel universes:
While we walk and talk and mingle with all sorts of people on a daily basis, the truth is this: as the days grow darker, the divide between those who know God, know truth, and know reality, and those who do not, is growing ever wider. It is as if there are two parallel worlds with no real connection between the two.
The lost are becoming ever more lost; the deceived are becoming ever more deceived; and those who hate God and his people are becoming ever more intense in their hatred. While we are to do all we can to reach these people, the divide becomes greater by the day it seems.
Plenty of Hollywood films could be mentioned here in this regard. Keanu Reeves is said to have made this statement about the famous film trilogy he starred in: ‘The truth is, the Matrix was a documentary.’ Whether he said that or not, the film sure did graphically demonstrate how a two-tiered world can exist side by side.
We have masses of people who are utterly clueless. They think their world is the real one, when in fact they are living a lie, they are living in delusion, they are living in a world of make believe. Trying to wake these people up is the need of the hour. They desperately need truth, but so many of them hate the truth. They desperately need the light, but they hate the light.
And that is just what Jesus warned about. As we read in John 3:19-21: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” They were living in a parallel universe.
But sadly this great divide is not just between the children of light and the children of darkness. Increasingly we find that all this is happening in Christian circles as well. There is a growing divide between real deal biblical Christians and those who just are pretending to be Christians.
We have wheat and tares, in other words, growing up together. And this is easy enough to demonstrate by way of biblical examples, historical examples, and personal examples. As to some biblical examples, I just read this again today from Nehemiah 4:7-9:
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
While these critics were not Jews, but non-Jewish local governors, they still pretended to be onside. We read more about them in Neh. 6. They even sent out false prophets to deter the people from completing the work. They sought to push their agenda of stopping the work by pretending they were on the same team. They were living in a parallel universe.
We get this all the time today. For example, how many folks claiming to be Christians were dragged up by the mainstream media during the fight over homosexual marriage to pretend that Christianity supports such things? There were always these false prophets getting on the ABC and elsewhere to assure us that Christians are fully in favour of fake marriage and the like. They were living in a parallel universe.
As an example from recent history, I just read something interesting about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this regard. While most German Christians seemed happy to go along with Hitler and the Nazis, Bonhoeffer sought to wake up the churches and alert them to the diabolical dangers of supporting this tyranny.
Just yesterday I picked up a 30-year-old book on him by Renate Wind: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel. In it she speaks of how Bonhoeffer had given a lecture to a group of Berlin pastors in April 1933. She said this:
Most of the people sitting there were certainly not encouraged by the way the state was exercising its office. But they were good Lutherans, and so Dietrich first moved on tiptoe through the theme of church and state. The church has no right to appropriate to itself power over the state. But it may not keep out of politics if the state abrogates basic human rights. In this instance Dietrich mentioned three possibilities of church action towards the state: “In the first place it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community (!). The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.”
Dietrich gave the rest of his lecture to an almost empty room. His demand that the church must be prepared for political resistance had flabbergasted most of the audience. With this attitude, Dietrich remained alone in his church. The only ones who would have agreed with him, the Religious Socialists, were themselves already among the persecuted.
They were living in a parallel universe.
As to other devout believers who have had to deal with critics, naysayers and opponents, church history is full of examples of this. All of God’s great saints have had to deal with all sorts of opposition, resistance and criticism. And they often do not get very far in presenting truth, as their message is too hardcore for most churches and most Christians.
I always appreciated what A. W. Tozer said about this: “I have preached myself off of every Bible Conference platform in the country!” That is, he would get an invite to speak, he would deliver God’s Word in fullness, conviction and truth, but most folks could not handle it, and they never invited him back. They were living in a parallel universe.
In my own small way I have known all about this. I have had plenty of one-off speaking engagements. I come and share what God had put on my heart, and that is the last time I speak there! Or at best, it is quite a mixed reaction that I get. Some folks will love what I have to say, while others will hate it.
As a recent case in point, the other day I gave a rather impassioned talk in one small church which held a special inter-church service. I spoke about the culture wars and the importance of truth to around a hundred people. At the end of it I positioned myself next to a book table I had near the front entrance. Almost immediately one couple angrily stormed past me and straight out the door.
Hmm, I take it they did not approve of what I had to say! Later I was told by someone that they were leaders in a very liberal denomination that pushed all the usual leftist agenda items. I guess that explains why they were not too thrilled when I spoke about things like defending the unborn and standing up for God’s institutions of marriage and family. They were living in a parallel universe.
So that is the world we find ourselves living in. Not only are non-Christians increasingly moving in circles completely opposed to, and at odds with, the Christian, but we also find a widening divide in the churches, where some are following Christ fully while others are merely paying lip service to their faith.
We must be aware of this and guard against it. Many are living in deception and embracing lies, but are in the churches seeking to drag others down. The New Testament repeatedly warns against this. As but one key text, consider what Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
So we need to be aware of this fact: we have folks living in parallel universes. It would be nice if everyone were on the same page and living in the same ideological, intellectual and spiritual world. But they are not. Knowing this should in part explain the routine antagonism and opposition that the true follower of Christ will always get – both from the world and from fake Christians.