In recent blogs, I have written about painful or challenge subjects, Of Death and Dying, and Of Time and Eternity. Today, I will not stray too far from these. I want to talk about substance. It is not altogether unrelated to the former.
Substance is something we have lost sight of. The substance I am speaking of is not the intangible substance, like having substance of character. The substance I want to focus on relates to reality. Those of us in the Western world will struggle with this. We have lost our way.
Losing the Medieval Synthesis
We lost our way when the Medieval Synthesis (a systematic Aristotelian philosophy where scholars harmonized Christianity with nature and the world by subtly incorporating Aristotle’s pagan beliefs in Christian morals) shifted from an organic, pure life with God in the center to the Age of Reason. Today, technology has changed the face of the Earth in leaps and bounds. New opportunities, including business opportunities, have opened up to the masses for anyone across the globe with an internet connection. With a mobile phone, we have the world at our fingertips. We can live online if we want to.
In the middle ages, there was an innovative invention that changed the world back then, too, bringing with it new business adventures, and bringing people closer together. This was the invention of the printing press. With it, along with the Black Death, the Western world changed overnight. So did its mindset.
The Age of Reason
Slowly, the culture drifted to the Age of Reason, dividing faith and science, pushing God away. Then came the Industrial Revolution, which severed the family unit drastically. Since then, we have drifted from God even further, and the family unit is in pieces and society in general is deceived into thinking we don’t need either.
Now, we are smothered, choked even, by the deception that material things are the highest things in life to gain. We are materialistic. What this means, oversimplified, is that we think if you can see it, touch it, buy it, it’s real.
But it hasn’t always been like this.
Invite Plato over for dinner, pull up a chair and hear him out.
He would tell you to get ahold of your fork and knife, to put them to the plate and to your food. He would tell us that these things were shadows, not substance. This idea is strange to us, because we would call them substance. Plato would tell you the substance was somewhere else.
Copies and Shadows
David Pawson, British author, lecturer, and Bible scholar, says in his commentary on the biblical book of Hebrews, “To us Westerners, the real world is this world and the shadowy, unreal world is the other world. That is so burnt into our thinking that however much we talk about heaven it always seem a little bit unreal.”
To the Greeks, anything that was tangible was a shadow. A mere copy of the real thing, which sat somewhere in the spiritual world, looking similar, but much better. So we have to rethink this. To reteach ourselves. To have a paradigm shift in our heads.
We have to get it the right way up. Take our bodies, for instance. They are just copies, shadows, of the real ones believers will get to exchange for the real thing one day. My real body waits for me in some spiritual world.
The Real Thing
We can carry this thought over to sacrifices. The book of Hebrews talks about this. The sacrifices the Jews had to offer in the Temple, and the Temple itself, were just copies of the real thing. They were a copy of the Holy of Holies.
In fact, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ alone is the only real thing about. He is the only thing on Earth that is not a copy. He was a real sacrifice. He is the real High Priest.
“So what we deal with in this world are shadows, types, copies, imitations, and the real thing is in heaven,” says Pawson. And the real thing is by far superior! You should ponder this wonderful thought for a moment. It just might change your life!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…