Illusion or Real

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In our local science center, that we enjoy visiting from time to time, are several mirror displays. These mirrors are all different from the normal mirror we look into at home to get an understanding of our appearance. These mirrors all distort the reflected image. If you don’t like your physic, you can find mirrors that will alter it for you. Short people can see themselves as tall people. Someone who is overweight can see themselves as thin. The one I find the most entertaining is a mirror set up in such a way so as to make you appear that you are free from the bounds of gravity and able to just float through the air. This is what we call optical illusions. The dictionary says an illusion is “a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.” Today, the entertainment industry is exceptional at using such illusions to keep the attention of an audience. Normal sizes and distances are distorted, and characters appear to do the impossible, feeding children and adults alike with fantasies that are not real to life.
Some two thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified and put into a sepulcher. His enemies had been trying for a long time to prove that Jesus was not God and to squash his influence among the Jewish people. Now the illusion of being victors over the one whom they had so long been trying to apprehend was cause for great rejoicing. Past experience with criminals told them that once they were killed, the problem was gone. Finally, Jesus was gone and in the grave, out of sight, but not out of mind. Jesus had openly said while He was still living that after three days in death He would do the impossible; He would come to life again! So again they drew on past experience and put a guard outside of the tomb. Dead or alive, it didn’t matter; Jesus was in captivity and they were prepared! But their feeling of preparation was an illusion since they based it on past experience with humans, not with God. An angel came and opened up the tomb; Jesus came to life and was gone. Their human guards didn’t have a chance against God’s power! Now the enemies of Jesus were in really big trouble. And so this time they deliberately put together their own illusion. They put out the story that the guards fell asleep and His disciples stole His body away.
This illusion tactic is not a new one. Approximately six thousand years ago, not long after a perfect creation was put in place, Satan was out to defeat God. He helped mankind to question the validity of God’s words: “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Gen 3:3b), and supplied in their place, “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5b). As mankind dwelt on the better sound of Satan’s words than God’s, he concluded that surely this could be real…
The world today is chasing illusions. People are turning to drugs to get an illusion of happiness in the midst of a life full of bitterness and sorrow. Religions abound to choose from that paint a picture of no accountability to God. Discontentment abounds as people tell themselves happiness can be found in having a little more money. Shelves full of self-help books on many subjects give a "do this and you’ll get that" formula. Right and wrong have been redefined as relative terms. Sometimes people choose to give illusions. They go to church, putting up a front while they’re there, then live as they want when the preachers are not around.
The Bible tells us the world will become a worse and worse place as people create and fall into their own deceptions. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti 3:13). James warns the church against falling into the same trap. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25). Praise God He also tells us how to avoid these illusions. One of the common methods of causing an illusion in the natural sense is to mess with the reference points. Looking at a few books in a Christian bookstore should convince you that Satan has done that wholesale. James tells us to instead of focusing on our own doctored reflections to look into the “perfect law of liberty” and live it out. Only as we focus on the real and the unaltered, and then commit ourselves to it, can we be liberated from the enslaving chase of what appears to be better. Now we can be free from pretense; there is nothing to hide.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1b,2). I am so grateful for Jesus who authored our faith. May we, as He, focus on God, the real, and endure to the end.