The thin boundary between worlds

Bear with me here.  I’m processing this.  This has been on my mind for months, and this is the closest I’ve come to getting it out.  Please feel free to respond and put in your two cents.

There is a repeated theme in fantasy literature that there are places where the boundaries between the supernatural world and the physical world are thinner, where our actions in the physical world can affect the supernatural world, and visa versa.

I know it’s not always the best idea to get your theology, or even world view, from fantasy literature, but sometimes it speaks truth in a way that no other sort of story (or text book) can.  Hence C. S. Lewis writing The Chronicles of Narnia, or J.R.R. Tolkien writing The Lord of The Rings.  Actually, the truth in mythology is a big reason why C. S. Lewis became a Christian (or so legend says).

The thing is, this principle isn’t just in my favorite fantasy literature; it’s all over the Bible.  Look at Job: Satan talked to God – in the spiritual realm – and then Job’s physical world came shattering down around him.  Look most of the last third of Moses’ life, as he led the Israelites around the desert.  Look at the miracles Elijah and Elisha performed.  Look at Jesus.

There is an overlap.

And maybe this is because we are not just physical beings, but spiritual as well.  We live in a culture that currently believes that Science and Logic will always have the last word.  And yet there are so many unanswered questions in our lives that Science and Logic will never be able to answer.  So many heart longings that make absolutely no sense, but that make us miserable until we pursue them.  We are spiritual beings.

And so, as both spiritual and physical beings, sometimes what we do in the physical world echoes into the spiritual – our actions, our words.  Not always, but sometimes.

This is the part I’m not sure about.  I don’t know where the overlap is.  Is it everything?  Is it only the important stuff?  Is it in the quiet moments?  I’m willing to bet ceremonies like weddings and baptisms are a few of those times.  And those moments when you inexplicably feel loved.  Or when you just know that you know that you need to do something, or say something to someone, even if it doesn’t make any sense to you.

I don’t know exactly what the implications are.  I know there are some.  I know there is some sort of important life application here, but other than just becoming more aware of the consequences of your physical actions, and learning to listen to the spiritual side of you (um, otherwise known as the conscience the Holy Spirit has put in you…or the Holy Spirit Himself), which are both HUGE things, I don’t know.

But I know it’s important.

So, talk to me.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The thin boundary between worlds

  1. Heretic

    I think there’s something being missed here. While I agree that there’s a lot about humanity that is unexplained by logic or science, I wonder if that’s merely a misconception – feelings and emotions are outside the realm of what’s tangibly understandable. The question that should come up is, what can be scientifically explained, and what is simply learned behavior? I’m not sure I would say the things that cannot be explained scientifically automatically make it a divinely inspired thing.

    • belovedmeadow

      I agree with you. Just because we can’t scientifically or logically understand something doesn’t make it spiritual. That sort of thinking gets people in lots of trouble…and has through history.
      BUT I do think we need to realize that not everything will be scientifically explainable, and when that happens, we should ask ourselves if it’s something that we simply haven’t figured out yet, or if there’s something supernatural going on. From what I understand, feelings and emotions are constantly becoming more and more scientifically understood. And, to be honest, people who base their faith purely on emotions and feelings are in for a hard ride…and will probably bail pretty early on. They also tend to be part of the non-political sector that give Christians bad names.
      There needs to be a balance – a balance between the spirit part of us, and the physical part of us. And if we go about our lives pretending we’re just physical beings, we’re going to end up with some pretty significant issues in our lives – health-wise, habit-wise, relationship-wise.
      We need to recognize that sometimes, there really is something supernatural going on – whether it’s with emotions or it’s even something in the natural world. And I think we need to start watching for those instances, and paying attention to them, instead of ignoring them. What that looks like on a full-time scale, I don’t know. That’s what I want to figure out.

  2. kissfish

    AL – I’m gonna go way outside the existential and give what I think is the life application all at the same time. I’d argue that we are *primarily* spiritual beings, and therefore our actions in the physical should be subject to our actions in the spiritual. The other way around is backward.

    Think about it – God knew you *before* you were born… into a physical body. Our spirit is an eternal concept – existing from the time God created it, before we were born, and it will continue to exist after our physical body wastes away to dust. AW Tozer explains in the Pursuit of God that as we grow up from birth, our spiritual senses tend to fall in disrepair (especially here in ‘Merica where we are obsessed with everything physical- my words not Tozer’s). We’ve got to sharpen them if we want to know what’s going on.

    Physical is only half of less than half of what we are. It’s how we exist on earth for a short time, to learn what? How to abide in Christ, the God-Man. Did Christ not do and clear everything through the Father, through the Divine in his nature? Did he not perfectly know the Father’s will, which gave his physical nature great power and insight? Our benevolent savior would not ask us to imitate him solely out of our awkward physical self. How cruel and pointless would that be? He gave us spiritual senses and expressly gave us His Holy Spirit so that we could not only access the Divine realm, but live powerfully from it. Without it, there is only darkness and blind flailing through a whole bunch of worldly wisdom like “follow your heart!” (yeah that got me far) and the so-called logic of science, which our imperfect understanding of fails us OH so often.

    When we learn to act primarily in the spiritual realm and apply it to our physical world, we have a better, bigger picture of everything when that happens, and we can more effectively serve and be served by Jesus. I believe this is why guys like Elijah were carried up to heaven and Enoch simply “was no more.” I believe it’s why my friend Trent was taken so early– he already walked with God, did his bidding here, and went on home. It’s why you see supernatural signs and wonders in places like India– where people live more out of the Spiritual than the physical. They completely grasp that the fight is not against flesh and blood. That’s when things get “real” …

    • belovedmeadow

      KiSISy Fish (okay, seriously, WHERE did that come from?) –
      Okay – first of all, I want to know what Heretic thinks about that.

      But, I think, fundamentally, I agree. At least, I’ve been taught from the time pig tales onward that we are both spiritual and physical, I just haven’t ever wrestled with that idea. And now, looking around at an incredibly physical-focused world, I’m wondering what being a spiritual being means. If I am primarily a spiritual being, than maybe most of my longings / emotional drama / even physical desires are merely my spirit attempting to get my attention? What does it look like to take care of our spiritual parts? What is the spiritual equivalent of “eating healthy”, “working out”, etc.? I know the typical Christian answer is “Devos!”, but…I’ve honestly tried those and I have as of yet to really feel spiritually “full” after a single devotional time. Now…give me time with you, or our friends, give me time with God and a creative writing project, give me a leisurely hike, or an awesome contemplative worship service, or even a quiet room and some candles, or an awesome picture God allowed me to take with my camera – those things definitely leave me feeling spiritually healthy.

      I’m attempting to be more intentional and regular with contemplative prayer in my life, and I honestly think that’s part of it – leaving space in my life to allow God – to EXPECT God – to speak into me, to give direction.

      What would it look like if every action of ours was directed through God? But there also has to be a balance. I know people who ask God what clothes they’re going to wear in the morning, and that feels a little…excessive? Immature maybe? I don’t know. Maybe it’s me who is not fully embracing the idea of following completely.

      Thank you, thank you for your thoughts. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    • Heretic

      I think there is still a flaw in this type of thinking. There isn’t any tangible proof to show that this (the above comment) is how things are.
      I won’t reveal my own personal convictions, but we must admit, most of what we believe IS, in fact, learned behavior. Why is it considered appropriate for men to open the door for a female? Because we were taught it was. There’s nothing about the act that makes it NATURAL. It’s simply a culturally constructed aspect of life that we’ve accepted without question.
      This idea that we exist in the physical realm, but that’s only half of ourselves is a culturally constructed concept, and not a new one at that. This is all based on emotions and not on anything we can grasp. The idea of the spiritual world has constantly been taught as something real without ever being provided some type of evidence that it exists.
      I think this is vitally important to understand in order to keep ourselves from becoming to disillusioned to reality. I’m not trying to imply the spiritual world doesn’t exist, but there’s nothing to show us that it exists in the way we typically think it does.

  3. First I want to say that I completely agree with everything that you said. There is a connection. The Bible proves it. The story of Job, Elijah, Elisha, Moses—even Philip who was physically transported in physical space by a spiritual being. We have a longing in our hearts that makes absolutely no sense other than we just know that we know that we must do it in hopes that hindsight is truly 20/20 and that perhaps then it will make sense. And even then, if it doesn’t, we have to trust that it had a greater purpose. And for all we know, our actions were done because, as the Bible says, you never know when you may be entertaining an angel. I don’t know if there is a way to pin point where the overlap is. I think what we must do instead is to learn to trust our instincts—or to say it in Christian-ese—learn to hear the voice of the Spirit and follow it’s promptings. In regards to implications that it may have other than just becoming more aware of consequences of our physical actions, I think we should have it in the back of our mind that we may be the only picture of Christ that a person may see. And without us knowing, the physical and spiritual world will collide in that person’s life because of whom we are to them without even consciously thinking about it. I also think that some implications may be that we need to become more aware of the spiritual world around us. So often we don’t think of something as being spiritual warfare, but us as believers are enemies of Satan. But in saying that, we have the ultimate ally who protects us from things we didn’t even know. Have you ever had it where something at work, or school, or something took longer than expected which meant you got to your next engagement late? BUT while you were on your way or even when you got to your next place you realized that had you not been late you would have been stuck in some sort of mess? Or there have been times I was early somewhere and there was “randomly” a benefit for me being early. It’s this whole “right place at the right time” type of thing. Or even the idea of something being a coincidence. I’m beginning to realize that certain coincidental times may actually be when the worlds collide and THAT is why it was coincidental. Again, like you, I can’t say always, but there are definitely times. Some of those times, I have found extra time on my hands, and I get to experience and soak in a beautiful sunset where the Father just wanted me to sit and be still and enjoy his beauty. It was a gift. And that was the coincidence. His world met mine. Those are my thoughts….

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