The Duty of Living in the Reality of the Supernatural

"…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." 
Hebrews 11:6 ESV

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"Doctrine is important," writes Francis Schaeffer in chapter five of his book true spirituality, "but it is not an end in itself. There is to be an experiential reality, moment by moment… in the power of the crucified and risen Christ, through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by faith."

Yes, yes, yes… we nod our heads, agreeing with such a fine statement of what ought to be the daily experience of one who follows Christ. But is that our experience? Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that little by little, the reality of the supernatural is all too easily lost?

What seems to elude many Christians is a daily experience of living in the reality of the supernatural. The sense of God can be lost when we turn Bible knowledge into a hobby like stamp collecting. It can be absent when we put on our "black belt of discernment" to hone our church's doctrinal statement. The reality of the supernatural can be lost while we think and talk endlessly about how to fix our churches, institutions, and nations. The most important thing in life gets crowded out: the simple reality of God, and of being in His presence.  When that happens, the world successfully squeezes us into its default, naturalistic way of thinking. To quote Schaeffer on this...

"Our generation is overwhelmingly naturalistic [i.e. everything is the result of natural causes in a closed system]. If we are not careful, even though we say we are Biblical Christians and supernaturalists, the naturalism of our generation tends to come in upon us."

Schaeffer compares this creeping in of the world's naturalistic mindset to barnacles that grow on the bottom of ships. Barnacles create drag and hinder vessels made to cut cleanly through the water. The antidote for Christian barnacles are the Scriptures, which the Holy Spirit uses to teach the nearness of the supernatural all around us. 

For example, Luke's passage on the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31) says that their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus, then He ceased to be seen by them. Paraphrasing Schaeffer: "It wasn't that Christ was no longer there, but that they simply did not see Him any longer. John 20:19 gives the same emphasis."

Another classic text that Schaeffer takes us to is 2 Kings 6:16 where Elisha is surrounded by an enemy, and the young man standing with him is overcome with fear. "Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

"The supernatural was not something far off; it was there. All the young man needed was to have his eyes opened to see it. As soon as we remove the supernaturalness of the universe, all we have left is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in which religion is viewed simply as a sociological tool… a mere psychological mechanism."

Schaeffer rightly notes that this is precisely where the battle rages today. The naturalists are determined to get rid of the supernatural, to argue against it, that it is not there. Therefore…

"…we have thrust upon us the high calling and the duty to live in light of the existence of the two parts of the universe, the seen and the unseen parts, in the realization that the "heavenlies" are not far off. They are about us here."

Losing the reality of the supernatural is no small, insignificant detail.

It is not an optional feature of the Christian life. Rather, it is the Christian's duty to live in the reality of the supernatural.

When it is absent from our experience, all we are left with is our empty selves, empty religion, a dead sociological tool by which to manipulate ourselves and other people for short-lived ends. The Apostle Paul said of Christians: "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 1:1)

Intersecting Faith & Life:  
Have barnacles crept into your life lately, causing you to lose the reality of the supernatural? Ask God for renewed eyes of faith. Present yourself to God (Romans 12:1) to be transformed and renewed in your mind as you dig into these Scriptures in His presence.  

For Further Study:
Luke 24:1
2 Kings 6:16
1 Corinthians 1:1

Originally published July 21, 2011.