The Real World

Reading Time: 2 mins

God gives his church a story that helps to make sense of this life.

In 1992, MTV came out with The Real World, the first reality show of the modern era. The tagline was “the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house, and what happens when they stop being polite, and start getting real.”  I remember watching it once and thinking - this can’t be real. It’s all fake - it’s all made up.

Well, it was a success nonetheless, and we have been drowning in a deluge of reality shows ever since. From Survivor to the Amazing Race to the Bachelor to Love Island, these shows have essentially taken over the television and entertainment industry. And it’s not just Hollywood that has been dealing in the fake and phony in recent years. Fake news, fraudulent claims, and conspiracy theories abound today in all types of media, with social media and artificial intelligence leading the way.

People are left wondering, “What is true? What is real? Is there anything truly genuine and authentic?” We find ourselves in a meaning crisis in the West, defined and described by the likes of Jordan Peterson, John Vervaeke, Douglas Murray, and Tom Holland, among others. People are left wondering where to turn when cultural and societal structures break down around them.  

Our culture doesn’t believe in absolute truth anymore. There’s no overarching narrative: where you have your truth, I have my truth, they have their truth, and somehow everything will work out in the end. But as the old “contradict” bumper sticker pointed out so well, all religions may be false, but they can’t all be true. In the end of this scenario, you're left with nothing. Nothing to believe in, no absolute truth, no sure and certain hope. 

The good news is that there is another story. The story of a God who loved this world he created so much that he came down himself to redeem it. A God who promises to someday set things straight and make things right, to make everything sad come untrue. To bring about what he originally intended for his creation - something good, true, and beautiful.         

In the meantime, God gives his church a story that helps to make sense of this life. It gives meaning, purpose, and significance to all. It builds faith, grants forgiveness, and spreads peace, hope, and joy.

For God’s people, the ultimate reality is knowing Christ and making him known. It is reading and hearing God’s Word. It is prayer and meditation. It is confession and absolution. It is the reception of God’s good gifts through the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. It is eating and drinking Christ’s body and blood in and with the bread and wine in Holy Communion. It is gathering in worship and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the conversation and consolation of fellow believers. It is, in the words of the Apostles Creed, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. 

Welcome to the real world.