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reality bites: Job 18.4

Reality can bite. When it does, it’s tempting to escape to Disneyworld. But no one lives in Disneyworld (except for Mickey—who by the way, is not a real mouse). Let’s look at Bildad, one of Job’s friends. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Job’s friends, but they are terribly fascinating to me).

When Job’s friends got to the city dump, they were appalled. Job looked so hideous; they initially didn’t recognize him. His friends just sat with him in silence for a week, not knowing what to say. Not one time throughout this very long book did Job’s friends ever pray for him. Their insensitive commentary was totally wrong, nevertheless, despite themselves, they managed to sprinkle in some dreadfully brilliant questions.

Like when Bildad asks: Do you want the world redesigned to suit you? Should reality be suspended to accommodate you? (Job 18:4, MSG). Snarky, but brilliant, right?

What happens when we suspend reality to accommodate delusions? What if something untrue becomes so popular that everything—including the best interests of children—is sacrificed? What happens when reality bends to accommodate someone who “is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can’t even look at what he’s doing … and say, ‘This is crazy’” (Is 44:20, MSG)? Matthew Poole adds his commentary: “Shall the counsels of God, which are more firm and unmovable than rocks, and the whole course of his providence, be altered to comply with thy fancies?”

I think living in fantasy land is hard work. Reality bites and it bites hard. One must labor tirelessly to control the narrative to keep reality from seeping in. It’s exhausting to live in denial of the reality that is constantly intruding to refute the delusion.

Tampering with reality is not only tiring; it’s dangerous. Perhaps it explains why Eugene Peterson paraphrased Jesus’ words this way: “This is the crisis we’re in, God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure” (John 3:19-20, MSG). Delusion hates the light of reality.

Reality, however, is quite liberating. The word the ancient Greeks used for “reality” (alētheia) is translated “truth” in John’s gospel. So, Pilate’s infamous question, “What is truth?” was actually, “What is reality?” (John 18:38). Jesus is “full of grace and reality (aletheia)” (John 1:14). He is “the way, reality (aletheia), and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus doesn’t just have the correct facts down; he is Reality itself!

Rest in Jesus. Stay in the light. It’s Reality that sets you free (John 8:31-32).