Let me begin with a confession. I have never watched a single episode of the hit series Stranger Things. For some reason I tend to not participate in most hit show trends. I only watched one or two episodes of The Walking Dead. Never watched Game Of Thrones or Breaking Bad. Many years ago, however, I did get caught up in the world of True Blood. (I repented for that later on. But I digress.)
I mention Stranger Things because though I’ve never watched it, it’s hard to escape it. There’s always another story excerpt, clip or spoiler online. I particularly enjoy how they’re reviving some of the great music from the 80s (most recently with Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill).
The show deals with supernatural themes and good versus evil. Of course, it’s not the only program to incorporate such concepts. These ideas are often quite popular and garner a decent audience. I think many of us are drawn to movies and TV shows that deal with something beyond our earthly realm and understanding. I’ve been fascinated with life beyond our planet since I first saw William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek with his a-little-too-snug-fitting uniform, black boots, slicked-back hair and tons of attitude. I grew up on the original Star Wars trilogy. (Big crush on Han Solo.) I’ve shared my love for comic books and superheroes with you in previous posts. Ghostbusters is still one of my favorite movies. I watched all 15 seasons of the TV series Supernatural. I find it all very interesting.
But lately I’ve come to learn that truth really is stranger than fiction.
As the topic of UFOs and unexplained phenomena moves from the tin-foil-hat-wearing-crowd to the mainstream, you may find yourself wondering, “When exactly did I walk onto the set of ‘Signs’ and does Joaquin Phoenix still remember how to swing away?” (Some of you got that reference.) These are strange days indeed.
If we take a step back and look over the past 2+ years, we begin to see how different everything seems to be. Just as we used to measure time as B.C. and A.D., it feels like now it’ll be known as pre-Covid and after. (I’m not bold enough to say post-Covid because it seems like that pesky virus is going to keep on keeping on.)
For those of us who have been part of the faith-based community, we’re taught that there is a natural realm and a spiritual one. The natural realm is based on the physical world and everything we experience in it. The realm of the spirit is something different. We don’t live in that world, but we can have access to it and it can have influence on us.
As children many of us are taught that we each have a guardian angel. The angel’s job is to protect us and keep us safe. The angel watches over us. We can’t see this angel, but it’s always there. It’s a comforting story to tell a child who’s afraid of the dark or just had a bad dream. But is there any truth to it?
The Bible is filled with occasions where humans were visited by angels either in dreams, visions or concrete manifestations. I could give you all the verses, but I think this is a journey you need to take on your own. I will, however, help steer you in the direction of a few classic examples. Mary (Jesus’s mother) was visited by an angel to announce that she would be carrying God’s son. Joseph (her future husband) was visited by an angel to let him know it was safe to marry her. Later on an angel warned him of danger coming to his new family. The three wise men and shepherds in the field were visited by an angel announcing the birth of Jesus.
That’s four or five so far and we’re only talking about the subject of Jesus’s birth and infancy! There are so many others. I encourage you to do a search one day for yourself. What I love is that in most cases these incredible encounters are described as just another day in the life. Many people are initially startled and humbled by these angelic beings, but they’re pretty accepting of their presence. They don’t often flip out or run away. In some cases, they even sit down and offer to share a meal with them! I don’t know that I’d be so cool and casual. But perhaps they were able to be so seemingly nonchalant because in their lifetime the natural and the spiritual were more intimately tied together. The veil between the two realms was thinner.
You know I got the receipts. (Any and all verses, unless otherwise specified are from the NIV version of the Bible from biblegateway.com, emphasis added.)
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. (Hebrews 13:2)
Excuse me? This verse has always gotten me. We’re taught “stranger danger” and this is saying to take care of them because they might be a messenger from the Lord?! It can be a little confusing, I must admit. The key is to always use Godly wisdom. You don’t put yourself in harm’s way. But if God puts it on your heart to give someone in need a helping hand, then you may want to listen and obey. The other key take-away from the verse is once again how common interacting with angelic beings was in those times. This other worldly experience is treated rather matter-of-factly.
What is the spirit of the age?
If you’ve spent time in church you may have heard this phrase or something similar: “the spirit of the world”. But what does it mean? I went to several sources to try and get a solid definition. Once again, the best answer is found in the Bible. Check this out:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 NKJV)
We don’t like to admit this, but we live in a fallen, broken world. Sin, corruption, selfishness, hatred, and every other kind of vice have free rein here. The prince referred to in the verses above is none other than Lucifer or the devil himself. (Yes, we’re going there.)
If you can believe in the possibility of aliens from other planets, or contacting deceased loved ones through mediums or psychics, or any other supernatural idea, why can’t you consider the very real truth that evil exists?
History is filled with stories of great evil and horrific atrocities. Our present times are no better. Is it not possible that just as there is an Author for all things good that there is someone who stirs up the worst, most awful urges in people? The spirit of the age or of the world is that influence. We call him the enemy.
He can be subtle. He starts with turning the focus onto ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, there is value in self-reflection and assessment. But the spirit of the world isn’t interested in individual betterment to help encourage a more peaceful, loving world. On the contrary, this spirit wants you and me to be consumed with a “what’s in it for me?” view. Self-love and self-care give way to selfishness. The priority is me at all times and in every situation.
One thing to realize about this spirit is that it will always seek to undermine and pervert the things of God. It is against Him. It is at war with His Word. The Bible teaches us this:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (Philippians 2:3)
How often do you see the value of preferring others over ourselves being espoused? It’s more about getting ahead and not letting anyone or anything stand in our way. Selfish ambition. We get frustrated when someone else gets a promotion or something we thought should have been ours. Could it be pride or vain conceit at work in us? Perhaps.
Here’s a verse that I always find a bit stinging:
He (Jesus) said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:15)
Wow. I don’t know that I can add anything to that statement. What we praise and value in this world is detestable in His eyes. God is always about our hearts. It’s very important to, as I often say, know the why of the what. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is your intention and your motivations?
You may be saying to yourself, “I know the world is screwed up, but it’s not all bad. Besides, I’m a good person. I try to do the right thing.” Don’t hate me for this next verse. Take it up with the Lord:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2:15)
I understand that it can be overwhelming. God creates a world that we’re to live in, but He wants us to hate it? That’s not precise. There are aspects of it that we are to enjoy. He gave us nature and beauty, all Creation, our loved ones, family, friends. He gives us all gifts and talents, abilities to be used to be productive. This verse is more about not loving the spirit of the age and succumbing to its enticement.
This world is broken. The spirit of the age wants to keep you and me focused on selfish desires. It wants to take what God has made and twist it, change it, flip it on its head until it’s unrecognizable. (Am I the only one who feels like every cultural norm and core value is going through this type of transformation?) It wants to remove objective truth so that there is no commonly agreed upon standard for right and wrong. It desires chaos. And it will use its influence to try and infect us and cause us to stray from the Truth.
It’s a war: a spiritual battle between good and evil.
So what do we do? Once again, the Bible has the answer:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
How do we renew our minds?
We spend time reading God’s Word. We pray, we seek, we fast, we ask. I mentioned earlier that in Biblical times men and women weren’t always completely shocked when an angel would appear to them. Why? I believe it’s because many spent more time: reading, praying, seeking, fasting, and asking. Our prayer life, our time in the Word, our fasting – these are all ways to connect with the spiritual realm, to thin that veil, if you will, between it and the natural.
I’m not talking about anything New Age like astral projection or consulting a spirit board or tarot cards. These are false flags and misrepresentations of the truly divine. They’re counterfeits. If you want the real thing, get in His presence. It is possible. And if you haven’t yet received His Holy Spirit into your life, pray for that. I can tell you from experience that once He is living on the inside of you, it’s as if you put on a new pair of eyeglasses. Things that seemed unclear or hazy come into focus. You can see what’s coming from a greater distance, and you better understand what’s right in front of you.
There are two worlds: the natural and the spiritual. We live in one but should operate out of knowledge and wisdom given from the other. Before we accepted Jesus we were on the losing side, but now we are “more than conquerors”. Doubt me? Good. I’ll leave you with this:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Final word of advice: pray before you slay.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,