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28th February: Fantasy or Reality

The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

I have recently been reading a most thought-provoking book by Malcolm Muggeridge entitled Christ and the Media. His thesis is that the media, especially television, encourage us to live in a world of fantasy. He states*:

`The prevailing impression I have come to have of the
contemporary scene is of an ever-widening chasm between
the fantasy in terms of which the media induce us to live,
and the reality of our existence as made in the image of
God, as sojourners in time whose true habitat is eternity.
The fantasy is all-encompassing; awareness of reality
requires the seeing eye which comes to those born again
again in Christ. It is like coming to after an
anaesthetic; the mists lift, consciousness returns,
everything in the world is more beautiful than ever it
was, because related to a reality beyond the world -
every thought clearer, love deeper, joy more abounding,
hope more certain. Who could hesitate, confronted with
this choice between an old fantasy and a newly discovered
reality?'

As affluent Canadian physicians we find it easy to live in the fantasy world of materialism, forgetting that the things which one sees -- our medical instruments, our incomes, our work places, homes and clubs -- are temporal, and failing to remember that things which are not seen -- relationships to others, love, concern -- are eternal.

This fantasy of affluence, where good, comfort, shelter and energy are in abundance, can easily blind us to the realities of the Third World, where tens of millions are hungry, homeless, deprived or starving.

Even within the context of our Christian Medical and Dental Society we may be living in fantasy. Our symbols are the cross (self-sacrifice towards God and others) and the towel and basin (humble service to others). Do these really represent our personal daily actions and attitudes, as well as those of our local Chapter? Are we deluded with the fantasy that all is well with our peers, especially our Christian peers, or are we aware of and sensitive to depression, frustration and bewilderment among them as well as a tendency to succumb to the current climate of sinful materialism?

At the conclusion of the book John Stott writes*:

'Let us keep hearing the alarm bell that Malcolm has been so faithfully ringing so loudly. I shall never forget the contrast that he`s been drawing between fantasy and reality. I am going to take with me his words: `Stay with the reality of Christ. Lash yourself to the reality of Christ, like sailors in a stormy sea'. I have a fresh determination to do even that in this fantasy world in which we live!

Deliver me, Lord, from the fantasy world of materialism,
and show me in my life the things that are real. Then
grant me the grace to live accordingly.

Further reading: 2 Cor 4:16-18. Heb 11:13-16.

ROS

*c1977 by The Evangelical Literature Trust. Reprinted by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.

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