Virtual Reality and a Greater Reality

You may be reading this article because you have followed the link at the end of my article about switching from Windows to Linux. I am now writing this to give testimony to what has recently happened in my life and to use an illustration comparing spiritual truths to the mundane things of the world.

If I were to be honest with myself, I would have to say that basically I had a very unhappy childhood. This is in spite of the fact that I came from what had the appearance of a good and stable home, but there are many complex factors involved and too much to go into right now. It has taken a long time over many years to come to the point of acknowledging this as a basic fact, but to do so has started to have a great healing effect in my life. I have over many years been troubled by specific memories from my childhood and teenage years and they have been made worse by feeling that these memories were peculiar to me and that no-one else could have possibly gone through the same thing (illogical really if you think about it!). By accepting that I had an unhappy childhood overall, it has been possible to realise that this is now not at all something peculiar to me, but rather an experience shared by millions of others.

As a Christian I’ve known for a long time the facts on how to deal with the past, not least the need to forgive those who have wronged us and I would like to think that I have been able to do these things to the best of my ability. We can appear to do all the right things but are we really entering fully into the freedom that God wants for each of our lives? There is a sense in which the past is a non-existent entity. The consequences of the past are still with us, since what we do one day can have a permanent and irrevocable effect on future events, but the past itself is totally gone. It is interesting that we are told that things present and things to come cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38). No reference is made here to things past – they are in one sense a non-entity. Also see 1 Corinthians 3:22 for another reference to the present and future without the past.

In my technical article I talked about running Windows within a virtual machine under Linux. In this situation Windows is effectively running in its own virtual reality inside the Linux system. While using the Windows system it all appears very real, but when you come back out into Linux you realise that this is actually a greater reality. You could maybe compare this to waking up from a dream.

We are told in Scripture that when anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). New birth makes each and every one of us a brand new person and the reality is that who we are is now traceable back to the fact that we are chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and not back to our natural birth and childhood. It is now almost as if my childhood memories can be viewed as running in virtual reality while my position in Christ is the greater reality. A bit like Windows (which I now don’t like as much as Linux) running in virtual reality inside proper reality. I have found this analogy very helpful. It is very much the way we think that affects the way we are as we are told to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). Let us change our daily thinking to live increasingly in the knowledge that who we are in Christ is a far greater reality than what our past lives have made us to be.