By Noel Santiago
Colossians 1:16 (NIV), “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
While Colossians 1:16 clearly states that God created the “visible and invisible,” could we say that we in the west rely more on what we see than what we don’t see? Is it fair to say that we don’t always believe nor live as if the spirit world is real? I wonder if this is because we have grown up under the influence of the enlightenment movement, that swept Europe around 300 year ago, claiming if you can’t prove it scientifically, it doesn’t exist.
I appreciate and value much of what science has helped bring forth. Indeed, many of the early scientist themselves where Christians. However, there seems to be many challenges for us in the west when it comes to believing and living as if the spirit is real.
First, the challenge with the scientific method is: how do you prove the existence of say, angels, demons or God for that matter — especially, when they don’t hang around long enough for us to conduct reproducible scientific experiments that yield the same results, which is one of the fundamental requirements of the scientific method.
Another challenge is that while we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, we forget that it is also a Middle Eastern book whose worldview is quite different than the western worldview. In this worldview, the spirit realm is very real and evident in our lives. So as westerners, with a culture where anything not scientifically proven is superstitious or folk tradition, we have a greater challenge to see the spirit realm.
There is also the notion of the “God gap” that exists within in our society. The God gap says that science will eventually be able to answer all questions we don’t have answers to now and consequently we won’t need God or the spirit world to help us understand and explain what we don’t know.
The Bible talks about binding and loosing (Mt 16:19); whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, etc. This is the interplay between these two realms, the realm of what you can see and touch and the realm of what you cannot see and touch.
The Colossian text tells us that the spirit world is real! It’s as real as the world in which we live, for out of it came all things that exist, into existence! Might we take some time to consider the possibility that the spirit world is just as real as the physical world? What, if any, difference might this make in our lives, our communities of faith and in the world?