William S. Cline
At various times in our lives, all of us have been or will be disillusioned. The results can range from moderate feelings of disappointment to serious depression and even suicide. All men and women, at some time or the other, suffer from disillusionment, but few know that their state of disappointment is a result of the breakdown of an illusion they themselves have manufactured. The disillusionment which people suffer is never possible without fantasy.
Everyone lives in one of two worlds, or in both as the case may be with many: the real world (reality) and the superimposed world of illusion (fantasy). From early childhood, both men and women develop ideas and beliefs that are totally imaginary. Fantasies become a way of coping with pain, solving problems and overcoming the difficulties that the real world presents. These fantasies allow the person to escape from reality, and the greater the need for escape, the more the individual clings to fantasy. It is was interesting to note that a television program which enjoyed tremendous success was Fantasy Island.
At first glance, fantasies may seem harmless, but living in a fantasy world keeps the man or woman from learning to live in a world of reality, and many times brings harm. One can dream of cake and ice cream all the time and die from starvation because dreaming does not put food in the stomach.
People need to leave the world of fantasy and live in the world of reality. But in order for them to do so there are a few things that must be done. (1) The individual must learn to separate fantasy from reality. It is a difficult task for many, but it must be done if fantasy is to be escaped. (2) The individual must realize that he himself is responsible for his illusions and, therefore, he has the reponsibi1ity to remove himself from the fantasy world. It is usually a difficult time when reality strikes and jolts someone from fantasy to reality. (3) The many fantasies that are common to our culture and have been passed on by parents, books, movies, television, songs, etc., need to be learned so the individual can avoid them.
A few years ago, Dr. Theodore I. Rubin wrote an article entitled, “Fantasies That Make You Unhappy” which appeared in the Ladies Home Journal. In his article, Dr. Rubin listed and briefly described several fantasies which influence the people of our day. Three of those fantasies are definitely worthy of the Christian’s consideration.
1. The Shangri-la Illusion. This is the fantasy that somewhere there is a paradise on earth, a problem-free, carefree, ever-joyous place in which one may live forever—if he can only find the key. Possibly all of us have this illusion at times. Such an illusioned person believes that there is a society of beautiful people who live in constant excitement and joy, free from all the ordinary burdens that some lesser people must bear. This “heaven on earth” has been the downfall of many a person.
In reality, no such place exists. The simple fact is that life is tough for everyone. One cannot have the roses without the thorns and anyone who has a crystal ball learns at some point in life that crystal balls do break. The Shangri-la, illusioned person is the one who becomes a Christian expecting everything to be “peaches and cream.” Then when reality jolts them from their illusioned world by having difficulty in living the Christian life, by learning that all members of the church are not what they pretend to be, by running into some church problems, etc., the suddenly shocked, illusioned person is ready to quit the church. He thinks that all is one big world of wonderfulness and when he finds that such is not reality he is ready to sabotage his Christianity. This writer has known many a church member who lived in such a make believe world and anytime something went wrong they were basically unable to cope with the problem. It is difficult to live the Christian life. Some members of the church are hypocrites. Congregations do have troubles. The antis and the liberals do exist and would destroy the church if we made believe they didn’t. Sometimes brethren do have to “fight” for what is right. The person who is looking for utopia in the church is terribly disillusioned because the church is made up of human beings, and utopia does not exist where mortals such as us dwell.
2. The Money Illusion. Here are fantasies stemming from the belief that prestige, money, power, beauty, fame, etc., make for continued happiness. Money, power, fame, etc., can bring happiness, but there is a point beyond which these have little or no effect; and much of the happiness they procure is only for a season with no lasting value. Inner peace, self-esteem and respect and acceptance with God are things that cannot be provided with money. Yet, in the church there are those who seek all these things under the illusion that money can provide all things. Many a person has sold himself to the Prince of darkness because he had the love of money burning deep within his passions. Jesus said that a man who gained the whole world and lost his soul would be a failure. That is reality. Nothing is quite as important as our relationship with God. It is the love (illusion) of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.
3. The Love Illusion. Love is wonderful. It was the love of God that caused Him to give His son as a ransom for sin. It was the love of Christ that took Him to the cross. Love is a key word in the Bible and certainly must be a key in our Christian living. But love is not the solution to all the human problems which everyone must face. Our culture continually promotes the love myth with songs, poems and stories, but it remains just a myth. No matter how much in love you are, you will still have problems with yourself and with the world. Love may cover a multitude of sin, but love does not eradicate problems. Love may help motivate us to preach the gospel to the whole world, but it is going to take some real sacrifice—blood, sweat and tears if the job is ever going to be done. We are seeing a generation that is being permeated with the “love illusion.” Today, seemingly they have the philosophy that love will take care of everything under the sun. But what if someone is teaching false doctrine? “Just love that man and it will all work out,” they say. Does that mean that we cannot expose his false doctrine? “One cannot expose false doctrine and love at the same time,” we hear. There are those in the church that would like to love away the lines of fellowship between the holy-rollers as well as the Christian church. We have those who preach a love gospel but forget the gospel which is permeated with doctrine as well as love. Regardless of how much you love, that love will not make all bad people good; it will not solve all of the world’s problems; and it certainly will not produce a situation where people can be acceptable to God without obedience to His will.
Fantasies may have been an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon as a child, dreaming that you were some king on a throne, a beautiful movie actress, or the driver of the largest fire engine in town. But fantasies in the adult world are signs of immaturity. We need to learn to live in the world reality.