A recent article in the New York Times suggested that up to 35% of the Twitter feeds most people follow aren’t real people. They are programs designed to mimic the postings of real people but are used to shape opinions and influence behaviors. These programs are called “bots.”
Isn’t it amazing how powerful fantasy and illusion can be?
In fact, I will go so far to say that the escape from the prison of illusion and a brave embrace of reality is one of the reasons I became Orthodox. Dealing with life as it really is with the added truth of God’s love and eternal acceptance is the path to spiritual maturity and peace. After all, the temptation to the dual fantasy worlds of elation or despondency is the constant struggle of many people. The challenge of dealing with the two opposite poles of illusion: “What I am Afraid of” and “What I Dream of” are both invitations to the delusional “drugs” of undisciplined euphoria or crushing depression. Both places imprison the mind and our lives in a fantasy world that inhibits our spiritual lives and peace.
Watch as the Lord deals with the duplicitous motives of “too wise in their own eyes” religious leaders of His day! They ask the Lord for some sign to prove to them He is who He IS. He responds: “”When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Matthew 16:2-4
These religious leaders could understand the weather, but they prefered the delusion of their own “wisdom” over the ability to know the reality of the Son of God!
The escape into the temptation of fantasy and the lack of dealing with life as it really is, always leads me to a delusion that hinders my spiritual growth and my sense of peace. In this delusion, my life becomes susceptible to the changing circumstances of real life and then I am either knocked down by these outward circumstances or driven deeper into despair. The truth is, the enemy of my soul has designed these temptations to further entangle me in my own delusions. The harder I struggle the more stuck I become. Think of the easy temptation of delusion and escape from reality (not the Queen song!) as the proverbial “tar baby” of temptations!
This is why the Lord instructs the disciples later in our Gospel Lesson for today to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (see the whole lesson in Matthew 16:1-6)
Today, ask the Lord to strengthen your commitment to dealing with life as it really is rather than escaping to the fantasy of “What I am Afraid of” or “What I Dream of.” This commitment to reality must also be coupled with the Faith that reveals to us THE revelation that I am invited to deal with life as it is in the light of the truth that God loves me; He has provided all I will need to internally enable me to face “all that comes to me today with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all;” He invites me to add His strength to mine in growing in grace and peace.
Today, refuse to run to that fantasy world. Stand today in the Light of the reality of God’s love for you. Allow the peace of God that passes understanding to keep “your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” all day today. (see Philippians 4:7) Reality is the only place you will ever be able to know God as He wishes you to know Him. Don’t accept any lesser existence!