Friday, July 15, 2016

Fantasies

“You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach….” 2 Corinthians 11:4a

Children especially love fantasy. They listen to fairy tales, play the Candy Land game, dress up, watch animal animation movies, and make graham cracker houses of gumdrops and marshmallows. We never seem to outgrow loving fantasy.

Maryamo, newly arrived from a refugee camp, was glued to the soap opera on TV. It surprised me to see her so absorbed in the western love story while she was cloaked in her conservative dress and head covering. The curtains were drawn as usual to retain a sense of seclusion and privacy.  I asked her why she liked the program. She answered, “I want to know what I have to do for my husband to love me like that.” She longed for her husband to speak to her respectfully and treat her tenderly.  Many of my Muslim friends develop romantic fantasies because they feel deprived of romance in real life.

Some of them glorify the golden era of Islam, or, if they are from Iran, wish Zoroastrianism could be their country's dominant faith once again. Everything seemed perfect. That is a big fantasy.

There are Muslims who, when they begin their faith journey with Jesus Christ, have a fantasy of the Christian community. It is very painful when they realize that a perfect Christian community will only be a reality once we arrive in heaven. Sometimes they develop a fantasy faith where there should be an escape from sickness and suffering or believe that every dream,vision or prophetic word is from God.

I hear fantasy regarding Jesus among my Muslim friends. He is exempt from the suffering and humiliation of the cross in the Qur’an. In the Bible we read of Jesus being a mystery, but not fantasy. We have a courageous and strong Savior who willingly walked through suffering and humiliation and broke the power of Satan and of death. Over and over I relay to my friends that the Jesus in the Qur’an and in the Bible are different.

Well, after saying all that, I admit I have nurtured fantasies, too. Some fantasies have stimulated hidden gifting in me to be used. Other fantasies have been sinful and I’ve had to come to my senses and repent. When I was a child at missionary boarding school I used to fantasize mom and dad would suddenly walk into the room and I would be flooded with joy. No more separation! That frequent fantasy comforted me. Deprivation, abandonment, loneliness, war, abuse, and a host of other reasons can cause any of us to nurture fantasies and escape into an unreal world. Perhaps we are all the same around the world. There is a reason why each of us nurtures fantasies. I keep discovering that Jesus, my Savior, is able to meet my needs and longings in the fantasy world I create. It has been helpful to share my own story with my Muslim and believer friends.

Dear heavenly Father, help me to better understand my friends who create a fantasy world as a coping mechanism and for wisdom to share how Jesus can help them in their pain. Amen.