new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

The need for realism

What will it take to exit this coming year in a better state than we enter it, either personally or as a nation?

Aside from all the talk about pulling together and reigniting our sense of community, it seems to me that something else is needed—realism. In many ways we have been living in a bubble of unreality for a long time, burying our heads in the sand with regard to a host of issues—personal, national, economic, religious and social. We have kidded ourselves that the emperor’s new clothes really have covered over our nakedness. And we will continue to muddle through the mess for another year unless we face reality.

Let me pick out several areas where reality needs to hit home.

Financial Realism – Just after the budget there was a man on the news lamenting, “We might not be able to afford a foreign holiday this year”! – ok so I know that we’re not all like him, but we have become used to a high standard of living. Our eyes are bigger than our wallets. Pleasure has become a right to be enjoyed whatever our finances, not something to be saved for. A previous generation knew how to live within their means, but we have lost this.

Moral Realism – As a nation we are good at papering over the cracks. We think that problems can be solved with a jovial slap on the back and a touch of blarney. We lack integrity; saying one thing and meaning another, making promises to save face that we have no intention of keeping, saying whatever we think the other person wants to hear. Little thought is given to honest self-examination or to identifying our flaws and seeking to develop and grow. We live in a fantasy world where we are the heroes and everyone else is flawed. It’s time we faced reality—we can’t fix others, but we can at least look at ourselves. The solution for the nation starts with the individual.

Spiritual Realism – Here too we can live in a fantasy world, a world where we each have our own beliefs, thinking them equally valid. This cannot be, they cannot all be right. And sadly it is our departure from spiritual reality—by which I mean biblical truth—that has led to a lack of realism in other areas. Without a penetrating and fixed standard of right and wrong, morality bounces about on a wave of pragmatism—what works for you and doesn’t hurt too many others. When we leave God out, something else like pleasure, money or reputation becomes the driving force, and once again we find ourselves in a mess. We need to hear the blunt and honest truth about us from God’s word, and we need his salvation from our guilt and from ourselves. Only he can change us into the people we ought to be, and ensure that we are better at the end of 2011 than at the start.