Virtual Reality! Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.
I define it as: dawning a pair of awkwardly large glasses to be transported to a world of our own making. One in which anything can happen. For a mere $100 (like the ones pictured) you can live however you would like with no one to answer to. You can frolic through the woods, fly across the ocean, collect Pokemon (oh wait…). To sum it up, virtual reality is living in a false world (wasn’t there a popular sunglasses movie about that?).
Yet, what we often don’t realize is that we already live in a world of virtual reality; for free. You see, everyday we dawn our flip flops (well maybe galoshes if you live somewhere seasons actually pay a visit) and our self-made VR glasses and head out the door. Armed with our pocket or purse full of instant gratification (also known as a cell phone), that when faced with reality we can quickly turn on and be transported back to a time where staged selfies and narcissistic hashtags live. A place where we have obtained our Masters and Doctorates from the web university and can tout our ever growing knowledge on our newsfeeds. We can, with gusto, shout our brilliant (and of course, always right) opinions for everyone to see.
You see, we have turned into a society where our social media accounts are our virtual reality. We see and live through them; they have become our identity. All too often I see families and friends gathered at a restaurant all on their phones posting their 5th selfie of the day so everyone can see they are out having fun. When in all reality they have spent less than 10 minutes actually having fun and an hour in their virtual world. We have become a society that while children are dying from terrorists running them over, coups taking place, and cancer eating away their fragile bodies; we run around trying to find fake animals and even more disturbing, take to the streets to tell each other how much we hate each other (and in cases recently, kill one another) because of something social media told us was reality.
You see, I have sat back these last few weeks observing. I love to observe. I am one of those people who will sit at a coffee shop and just people watch and try to figure them out in the two seconds I see them. What I have observed is alarming. We are so quick to condemn, judge, rule, shout and hate. We live to make ourselves high and others low. We have become a society of bullies. You may not outright see it as such, but isn’t it really what we are doing? We have created a virtual world of know-it-alls that say, “look at me, I know what is right and the rest of you are fools”. We treat each other with disdain and mockery. We jump to conclusions and believe the first thing we read, then make it so that if someone disagrees, they are stupid, “uniformed” or “don’t understand”. We name call and ridicule someone for believing something – that they too only read on the internet. What people have yet to learn is that this society is run by marketing.
Last year in worldview, I told my class to always be leery of what you read and hear because there is always an agenda. No matter if it is a trustworthy source or not, we are all trying to sell something. We manipulate people’s thoughts and emotions with words and pictures to evoke the opinion we are desiring to achieve. We all do it! We are all trying to sell an idea, thought, way of life or even just a perception. This is why I am a research-a-holic. I don’t ever believe the first thing I hear or read, but I research till I can puzzle together the whole story. Whether that goes to if someone is really who they say they are on their Facebook page or if that article on garlic is right. Whether the Black Lives Matter movement is from Satan or Police officers are power hungry KKK members. Research is the key, because we all tell a story. We want everyone else’s VR world to match our own.
But research and observance can only help us if we have done one thing first: take off the glasses and start coming back to reality. We have to stop living in a world that makes us mad, jealous, narcissistic, discontent, ashamed, embarrassed, selfish, pig headed know-it-alls who lack any kind of compassion and love. We need to stop racing to our social sites (and the local street corner) to condemn everyone and love no one. We need to stop believing the lies and start fighting for the truth.
I imagine Christ coming into our VR worlds and turning over the tables in anger like He did in the temple. He would be telling everyone to drop their glasses and follow Him. Christ is the only truth. He is the light, the only way. God’s Word is the only thing we can fully trust and confide in, that’s why it needs to be our measuring tool for everything. His Word needs to be the glasses we put on to see everything else through, not the VR ones we make for ourselves.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – We are at war with the powers of this world. Satan wants to destroy love, truth and family. He smiles when we choose our virtual worlds over each other. He smiles when we make ourselves greater than God or anything or anyone else in this world. He smiles when we choose to hate instead of love. He smiles when we gullibly believe the falsehoods that he so simply throws in our paths.
It’s time to take the worldly glasses off and put on the glasses of God. It is time to start making Truth matter! Because this world is not about you or me, but the plans that God has set forth. This world will pass away (thank the Lord) and the new one will come. One that will be God’s virtual reality at last. Nothing like we could ever imagine or program ourselves. This is the only truth that matters. We need to be less about our rightly opinions and more about saving souls for Christ – the only true reality.
Proverbs 2: 6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of man ruins his way, And his heart rages against the LORD.“
Jeremiah 4:22, “For My people are foolish, They know Me not; They are stupid children And have no understanding They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know.”
Romans 1:22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, ”
Isaiah 55:8, “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. ”
So then, what does life through the glasses of God look like? Well blessed be us, we have the answers; here are just a few:
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” James 1:19
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” Gal. 6:2
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” Eph. 5:19
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt. 22:37+38
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Phil. 2:3
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” 1 Cor. 10:31
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Col. 3:2
The Bible completely shows us how to live. They all fit into our daily lives. But practically, in meditating on these, I would like to challenge you to a few things (I challenge myself as well!) to start the detox process and:
- go out for a walk or for dinner with your family or friends and forget your phone (yikes!).
- Post as many encouraging things that point people to Christ as you do photos or marketing or opinion tactics (social media is an amazing tool for encouragement. I know many people who post 10 things a day, but they are all either God honoring photos of creation or encouraging quotes).
- when you’re screaming to shout your opinion – research first – then, in a loving way, bring about truth with grace.
- pray for the lost!!
- bring back a reverence in your life for God, His Word (it is the Holy Spirit written word of God that people were burned at the stake for; treat it as such) and His church (it’s the house of God – we have more reverence when we go to a friend’s house than to our Lord’s house.);
- lastly but most importantly read Scripture as if your life depends on it – because it does!