From Reel Life to Real Life
The Great Exchange
Continuing on with this theme of comparing living history with momentary eternal realization, I want to draw our attention to the idea of exchange and investment via soul death. If that sounds like a mouthful, let's break it down more simply. You already understand all this, but sometimes the Lord just wants to use some different language for refreshing our minds over what we are really about and what matters most on this journey.
As pointed out in the previous article, present life is but a fleeting story being told which will end up as nothing more than history in a book somewhere. (As Heaven tells it, “And the books were opened....”) The life we experience now at this world level is nothing more than living history. We are basically in a movie. And when the film reel comes to the end, it's over.
We are not living real life. We are living reel life. And when you look around at all the video technology from TV to movies to YouTube, what you see is but a reinforcement of this closed imaginary existence.....movies within movies within one great movie called life. That's what's around us right now and where we all are, quickly passing us by and by which we are all quickly passing away.
But it is within this reel life that God has stepped in to offer man (all the characters and actors that make up this reel life)—to offer man real Life....eternal life. And so we have been given that offer, and you and I on this Circle have accepted that offer—better, we have surrendered to that offer.
Now then we possess within us eternal life. We possess God Himself, through Christ, who indwells our “character,” having birthed us anew as a real man or woman for the first time. We are now that proverbial movie character that has miraculously stepped out of the movie and into Reality. (How many times have you seen this idea portrayed where puppets and cartoon characters and “holodeck” creations of fantasy come to life to mingle with the main living actors? That is all prophetic of our eternal life stepping into God out from this present existence.)
So far so good? We've been granted real Life for the first time when we came to know the Lord. We stepped out of being a mere tale that is told or a movie that is filmed to becoming one who IS on the very plane in which God dwells. No holodeck here. No fantasy of the mind. Just the true Reality.
Yet we are still stuck inside this “movie” of living history. Why?
The Exchange of Lifes
This brings us to the idea of exchange and investment. See, all eternal life is the product of an exchange. In order for the one Life to come, the first so-called “life” must by yielded up. To say yes to becoming real, one must say no to remaining a character on the reel stage of history. You can't become real and remain reel at the same time. Does that make sense? I hope so, because this is what the rest is all about. This is what our remaining partial subjection to this reel life is all about. Follow on......
Eternal life is not just the one-time product of exchanging fleeting present existence for real existence. It is an investment yielding an ongoing return. Eternal life is Reality that grows and multiplies. We grow and multiply as eternal ones. Who we now are keeps becoming more and more. This multiplication is captured by the spiritual concept of fruitfulness. Fruit-bearing is the description for the expansion and maturing of who we now really are as eternal ones in Christ.
This is the key to understanding remaining subjection to this reel life, this living history. The only way we can become more and more in our eternality, is by having something to ongoingly exchange to obtain that becoming. And the only way we can have something to exchange is if we are left subject to a state where we have something to exchange, to give up, to yield, to trade up for that becoming.
That is why we are still “stuck” in living history. Every day we remain subject to reel life, we have something to give and offer up in exchange to increase our becoming and our growing more and more in abundant fruitfulness of our real eternal life. The growing of eternal investment in the faithful is what this remaining reel life is all about. And that is all it is about. (It is not about those whose tales are only finally told on the nightly news and in history’s annals!) Remaining here and now is granted us then, not as a curse, but as a privilege to invest, giving us something to trade up for growing into our living Lord. That's it. That's all.
The Role of Soul Death
What concept does this lead to? It leads us to understanding soul death. What does soul death mean? Let's break it apart.
First, soul equals “the life of the flesh.” That is what Leviticus 17:11 tells us. Now then, the life of the flesh is this reel life of which we have been speaking. When you think of the soul, think reel life—life as a tale told and then is over. Soul life passes away. And soul life is what animates every character on this Shakespearean “stage” of living history since the Creation.
Second, death simply means to “part with....to be separated from.” It means to give up, to yield up. When the body dies, it's because it has “given up the ghost.” It has parted from the spirit. The spirit is departed. That's all that death means.
Soul death, then, is our parting with reel life. It is our parting with life in the flesh. We give it up. We yield up the natural imaginary energy that drives our bodies and writes our passing story. That is what soul death is. And it is a process of exchange that unfortunately but unavoidably requires enduring of suffering.
And so, the suffering endurance of soul death is the vehicle by which we are granted to invest in the multiplication of our eternal life. We get to trade away our soul life, part with it, die to it, in exchange for a further development of our eternal selves in Christ. We receive more of Christ. We become more and more in Christ. We grow inwardly. We bear fruit, the fruit of eternal life. And the more we have to give and yield up of reel life, the more eternally living we are able to become.
Some day, some blessed generation is going to make this exchange to the point that they will be considered qualified to transit straight from reel life to real Life in glorified flesh without having to suffer the parting of the soul from the body! That is what we are all hoping to be counted worthy to attain. That is the “blessed hope.”
Friends, these few paragraphs have put into words everything Jesus and the apostles have told us about the meaning and purpose of discipleship, of dying to self, of enduring suffering, of faith, of overcoming, of bearing fruit and of our reaping of investment in Christ and His reaping of investment in us. It's about making the ceaseless exchange of reel life to obtain real Life as long as we have any reel life left to give for it. This exchange completely rewrites the DNA of our hearts and minds and sense of identity, utterly changing our values and priorities as we finish out dealing with and passing through this reel life. As Jim Elliot, the famed martyred missionary put it best, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Soul Death’s Positive Incentive
I want to close these thoughts only by highlighting the positive incentive given us by the Lord in answering His call to make this exchange of reel life for real Life. It is true we have both negative and positive incentive for moving from the historical to the eternal. An obligation rests upon us fraught with negative consequences if we fail to heed the call. That obligatory tone is carried well throughout the tenor of Christ and the apostles' ministries, and is still laid before us through true prophets.
But the Lord wants us to grow quickly from an awareness of negative incentive to positive incentive in all this. We are to move from having to be prodded to accept suffering to instead value suffering for its role in this exchange, from always trying to escape death to instead welcome death to our lives in this world for the sake of this exchange.
Speaking to us from the mature perspective, Paul says "For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. (Php. 1:29 NLT) The apostles want us to come to see suffering as privilege because, even though it hurts deeply, suffering the parting with this life's attraction is the one and only means of being able to make this incomparable exchange of treasures.
As long as we have reel life left to live, regardless how painful our dealing with it, we have been gifted free currency to offer in order to buy one more degree of imperishable glory awaiting delivery. Every day here is another opportunity for investment in the Life that will never be taken from us. And the only reason I should want to desire the longest life possible now is simply to have as much opportunity as possible for trading up to gain more Christ Life of which I will never have to suffer the loss of a single heavenly penny.
Let these thoughts which you now read in history assist in staying your course in making this daily eternal investment you all are already endeavoring to make.
Love in the faith,
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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