Monday, April 25, 2011

Jesus is Alive! Oh, and He's REAL, too!

I like gadgets...probably too much. At a weak moment, I recently bought a Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system. I was lured into getting it because in addition to gaming, it is a 3D camera which is pretty cool. One of the games I bought is more of a simulation...a virtual puppy. Another intriguing feature of the system is what is called "augmented reality," which utilizes two front facing cameras to create the illusion of having a virtual puppy (I named mine "Cooper," and he even responds to my voice. Click on the first video to meet Cooper and click on the second one to see an example of Cooper living in the land of "augmented reality." Or you can trust me as to the coolness of the technology and skip down to the application of this technology to reawaken the wonder of having a REAL Savior (vs. a dead religion!).

And an example of augmented reality...

So what does this have to do with Jesus? Here is last week's church newsletter article I wrote attempting to show this connection:

I Got a New Dog! A couple of weeks ago I bought a new Golden Retriever puppy named Cooper! He’s smart and can already sit on command. He loves to play fetch with a tennis ball, and he walks well on a leash. He’s pretty good at taking a bath, too. The only downside is HE IS NOT REAL!

He exists in a handheld game system. The technology is pretty impressive in that he appears in 3D, and responds not only to my voice and the name I picked out, but also to your facial expressions (via the system’s camera). He is probably the most advanced “virtual” dog available, but he is not the real thing. He’s stuck in a little gadget, and can never truly enter my world in the flesh. The system can make him "appear" to exist in my world, but it's just an illusion.

I’m sure that when the game breaks or I lose the game cartridge, I won’t shed a tear over losing Cooper. How could I? He is really nothing more than a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in a computer chip! I remember when Dave, my real dog died, how amazed I was that it hurt so much to lose him.

What does all this have to do with Christ as we approach Resurrection Sunday? I was just thinking about how easy it is to treat Jesus like I treat Cooper…turning him on for a diversion (or paying attention to him when I’m in real trouble), but then turning him off again for the majority of my life. Like my virtual puppy, the Jesus of some people appears to be trapped not in a handheld gadget, but in a church building, where He’s paid attention to for an hour or two a week. As we leave a worship service, it’s so easy to leave Jesus there and not think about Him much in the coming week. Then we end up acting and reacting to the week’s circumstances just like everyone else does, Christian or not.

Jesus didn’t die a horrible death and rise from the grave merely to give us all a bunch of things to believe so we’ll get into heaven one day. He died so we could be adopted into God’s family NOW and forever, and He rose so He could be our REAL living Lord in daily relationship with us. How sad it would be for an adopted child who knew the facts of his/her adoption, but never connected with, or was transformed by the love of his/her parents…a love that sacrificed so much to make him/her a part of their family.

Paul makes this clear in Romans 8:15,16: "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."

The abundant life of an adopted child of our Heavenly Father is a reality both now and in the "hereafter," and that beats any fancy, cutting-edge, technological virtual puppy! Jesus really lived on earth, really died on a cross, really rose from the dead, and now really sits at our Abba Father's right hand. Oh, and His REAL living Spirit is right here to transform us into the people who love our Father and others more and more like Jesus Christ does.

My prayer is that you will celebrate our Living Savior and Lord both when you are with a community of faith, and when you are alone. May we celebrate every day for the rest of our lives, that we have opportunity after opportunity to know the Creator of the Universe as our own “Abba Father.”

Sure, a virtual, computerized, once-a-week, electronic savior would be easier to deal with in some ways, but you can’t be saved, transformed, or loved by something that’s not real. Jesus is Risen! Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Real!!!!

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