Are You Living in Virtual Reality?

Are You Living In Virtual Reality?

Are You Living in Virtual Reality? is a sermon teaching us the difference between living in reality and living in an illusion.

Key verses:
Luke 12:16-21

It is very important to consider in our life what is real and what is not. Sometimes the lines get blurred a little, particularly in our society today. I think it is important to keep those lines of distinction between what is real and what is not real. A lot of us like fantasy and that is OK if you keep it in perspective and realize that is what it is.

There has been a resurgence over the last decade or so of superheroes with lots of superhero movies and TV shows. I like superheroes, but are they a reality? They are not real. Sometimes you may wish they were real but they are not. So, I just want to help you tonight to know the difference between what is real and what is not.

Luke 12:19: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

A Virtual World

I believe that a large percentage of the world’s population today is living in virtual reality. Most of you know what that term means. I do not have a great deal of experience with virtual reality, I am not a computer person. I use a computer a great deal of the time, but I do not know much about it. I told my son that if someone had brought a cell phone to my high school, we would have thought that was magic because there was nothing that could do what that cell phone could do. You know your phone is small in respect to a computer and there are so many others that can do so much more. It is amazing. I am interested in it.

But what is virtual reality? Webster’s dictionary defines virtual reality as “an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli such as sight and sounds provided by a computer in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.” I think that is interesting because it partially determines, it does not determine everything in the environment.

About the most experience I have had along the lines of virtual reality would be a flight simulator. In a flight simulator, you are sitting there at the controls. A flight simulator is a device that artificially recreates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies in pilot training. I am not a pilot. A lot of people have asked me over the years. No, I am not and never have been.

I have made a lot of bad decisions in my lifetime and one of them was this. When I was about fifteen years old, I was taking flying lessons at $15 a lesson which was a good bargain even then. I quit flying lessons so I could get a good job sacking groceries. That was not a smart move to tell you the truth.

So, I never got to be a pilot. But I have been in a flight simulator on a number of occasions and you kind of feel like you are flying. It looks like you are flying an airplane. You feel it, you see it, and you see the runway and the horizon. You take off and you see all of it and all your instruments and it feels like you are flying an airplane. But you are still sitting in a chair and haven’t moved at all. It is not real. It seems real but it is not real. When I was working on a flight simulator years ago, I would almost always take off from Fort Lauderdale airport. Why is that? Because I knew where it was and knew how to get back to it and not get lost.

Living in Virtual Reality

But people live their life today, too many, in a dream world. They see their life and they see the world around them in the manner they want to see it instead of seeing things as they truly are. They are living in an illusion, a fantasy world, they are living in virtual reality and are deceived with that which is temporary.

The gospel of Luke has more of Jesus’ parables than any of the other gospels and actually more than the other three combined. Luke records the parables. But this particular parable teaches us about a man who is living in virtual reality. He knew some things that were real but there are some things he only thought were real. He felt he was experiencing them, but it was not genuine, it was not reality.

I have talked to people who do not believe in reality, which is absurd. I have had people tell me there is no reality, that it is all in your mind and there is no reality. I have asked people to walk through the pulpit towards me and they try but it cannot be done. Why? Because the pulpit is real, that is reality, it exists. You can say that you do not like it, that you do not believe in it, or say you do not want it to be true, but it is still real. You cannot deny it, that is reality.

Here is the point. If you deny reality, then you are living in a virtual reality where everything is imaginary, everything is an illusion. I want to show you what happened to this man in the parable that Jesus gave.

Luke 12:16: “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:”

Now, that much is reality. This man owns some ground, he owns some farmland and he had done well in the past because he was a rich man. He had a good crop that year. That is reality. That actually exists so there is no question about that, no illusion about it. The crop was real enough.

Luke 12:17: “And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?”

Listen to what he is not saying. He is not saying, “I have so much junk I don’t have any place to put it.” That is not what he is saying. He is saying, “My crop is coming in and it is going to be so bountiful this year, I do not have enough room to store it. What am I going to do with it?”

This Will I Do

Luke 12:18: “And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and [I will] build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.”

What this man is really communicating here is “this will I do” — he had a plan. Most people do. Most people have a plan. They have an idea and know what they are going to do. Some people do not and usually answer, “I don’t know” if you ask if they have a plan. But most people have a plan and work their plan.

Now, how well you work that plan has a great deal to do with the outcome of it, whether it succeeds or not. Having a plan is one thing but there is an old saying, “Plan your work and work your plan.” That is solid and something you think about. The outcome of a rain dance has a lot to do with timing. You can think about that one for a little bit.

But the thing this fellow is saying is: This is what I am going to do. I am going to have such a great crop. I am going to be richer than ever. It is going to be wonderful, but I don’t have enough barns to store all this grain that I am bringing in until I can sell it. He says, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns,” – we know that he has at least two barns, maybe more, that he will pull down. And then he says he will “build greater” barns bigger than what he had before.

Then he says, “and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.” What is wrong with that? He has got a plan, a business plan that he is going to carry out. He has made preparation and looking ahead. What is wrong with that?

Didn’t I just say that we should plan and look ahead? That is right. Isn’t that what he is doing? Yes. This is why I made the insertions the way I did, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and [I will] build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.” Notice “I will” used repeatedly. Here is the problem with that. Do you know that in Isaiah 14, somebody said “I will”? Do you know who that was? Satan. Satan said:

Isaiah 14:13: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:”

Isaiah 14:14: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Stepping Out of Reality

When Satan uttered his four “I wills,” that was pride. And this man’s pride has caused him to step out of reality and into virtual reality. He is assuming things, and in court, they use the terminology, “assuming facts that are not in evidence.” That is a dangerous thing to do, assuming facts that are not in evidence, not deal with reality. So, this is what he is doing. He is assuming that he is going to do all that.

But preacher, shouldn’t you have goals? Sure, you should have goals. If you aim at nothing you will hit it. But the fact is, he is assuming that it is within his ability to do all of this. What should he be doing? He should be focusing on God. He should be focusing on the Lord and what God can do in his life and through his life instead of focusing on himself. Now there is a fine line there because you want to achieve, you want to work hard, you want to see your work succeed. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you understand that you are not doing it all yourself.

One of the great illustrations of that and I have talked about it a lot is about David. Before he was King David, he faces Goliath. Goliath is bigger than David, he is stronger and more experienced than David. All that is true. And he is not a pushover opponent. David himself is pretty strong. But David goes out to face Goliath and does not say, “I will take this man down all by myself.” Do you know what he said? He says he comes in the name of the Lord and that the battle is the Lord’s. That is what he said. David is trusting in God to help him in this battle. Nobody in the whole country wanted to fight. But he stepped out there and he stepped out there with faith in God. And this is what the Lord is saying.

Luke 12:19: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

Oh, the man is happy that he has it made. Once this crop comes in and he sells it, he will not have to work again for many years, maybe not ever, and just live the high life from now on. James wrote about this kind of thinking:

James 4:13: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”

James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

James says you may go and buy and sell but you do not know what is happening tomorrow. You do not know what is happening tomorrow. Should you not plan for tomorrow? Sure, go ahead and you should plan, you need to plan things. But understand, your plans may not happen the way you think they will. James writes on:

James 4:15: “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

What does that mean? It means if it is God’s will, your plans will be carried out. I was talking to another preacher just a few days ago and he asked me what my plans were in a certain area and I told him. I said that was what my plans were but not necessarily what God’s plans were. If my plan is not God’s plan, then I do not want it. I want what the Lord wants. I want to have His blessing. I want to have His direction and that way I will have success.

James 4:16: “But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”

What carries people into this virtual reality? A lot of things. Sometimes it is laziness. They do not want to work hard enough to deal with reality. Sometimes laziness carries people into virtual reality. They sit around and dream of things happening and do nothing to make them happen.

But on the other side of that coin is pride. You can have a great deal of talent and ability and still not be a successful person. I have known folks like that. I have known singers and musicians who were just as good, and in many cases better, than people you hear on the radio, but if I told you their names, you probably never have heard of them. There are many factors that go into that. It is not just one thing.

Sometimes, it is not doing what has to be done to get where you need to be. But even when you do and trusting in your own strength you are going to fall short. I have known people who have tremendous talent, and do not get me wrong, I am not disparaging talent, I am all for talent. I know tremendously talented people and I respect them. But do not take pride in that. If you have a talent, that is something God has given to you. Use it to give God the glory and not just to glorify yourself. Sometimes people depend too much on themselves and living in virtual reality — that is not where it is. Verse nineteen again:

Luke 12:19: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

Living only for the here and now. Living as I want is all that matters. Is it wrong to want things? Well, it depends on what you want, doesn’t it? If you want bad things, that is wrong. If you want good things, that is not wrong. As long as the good things you want can be legitimately achieved, meaning, you do not steal to get it, you do not cheat or lie to get it. If you legitimately achieve it, then there is nothing wrong with that.

Luke 12:20: “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

“But God said” – this is very interesting. If you go back to the sermon on the mount in Matthew five, six, and seven, Jesus tells us not to say this to anybody, that God is about to say something, and He told us not to say it to anyone. Well, how come it is wrong for us to say it and for God it is alright to say it? There are a lot of things that are OK for God to do but not for us to do. Why? We are not God.

So the man said in verse nineteen, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” The man thinks he is going to live a long time, enjoy the fruits of his labor, and have a good life from here on out.

But in verse twenty, “But God said unto him, Thou fool,” Wow. Again, Jesus instructed us not to say, “thou fool” to somebody. God said to this man “thou fool.” Why did He say that to him? Let’s look at the verse:

Luke 12:20: “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

Life as a Sports Game

Yes, the man was successful and thought he had a long time to enjoy it. But friend, this is it. I often think of life as in a sports game maybe football or basketball where you are on the clock, not all games go by the clock like baseball or golf. But think of a game that has a clock, like football or basketball, you have so much time to play, and that is it. You are standing here in the game on the field or on the court and you know the clock is running. But from where you are standing, you cannot see the clock. You do not know how much time is left on the clock. Life is like that.

Now, if you are playing football or basketball and you cannot see the clock are you going to tell yourself that it does not matter how you play, you have plenty of time. No, you do not do that. You have got to have a game plan and you have to carry it out. You do not say that since you cannot see the clock and do not know how much time is left that you are simply not going to even try. But the fact of the matter is the time is running and you do not know how much time you have left.

That is what Jesus is saying here. The man thinks he has years to come but he does not. “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:” – this night. This man said he had plenty of time and God says tonight.

So, I am standing on the field as I see it. I cannot see the clock and do not have any idea of how many minutes are left, but I am pretty sure it is the fourth quarter already. In other words, three-quarters of the game is gone and I am getting down to that final quarter. What are you going to do with that? Well, you are going to trust God and serve Him. We will say more about that in just a moment.

Be Prepared

God says, “this night thy soul shall be required of thee:” – The time is up, it is game over. God continues, “then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” Sure, he is going to have full barns when the crop comes in. But he is not going to be there to get anything from it. Who is?

Have you thought ahead and prepared? I am not a computer guy, and I am certainly not an attorney. But I am going to tell you, you ought to have a will. There are other options to having a will, but you ought to explore them. You may say that you do not have much of anything. Well, whatever you have, if you do not have a will, somebody else is going to decide what happens to it. Maybe you wanted somebody to have something, but they are not going to get it. They will not have a claim to it. You must spell these things out, you have to plan ahead. Now, that is far more complicated than what I just told you, but it is something you ought to look into and something you ought to do.

You ought to think about who is going to take care of your funeral after you are gone. Because you will not be able to do anything about it. Who is going to? You may say to just throw you on the trash heap, well it does not work that way, folks. Somebody has to take care of it. You ought to think about that.

You do need to make some plans because one day time is going to stop for you, for me, and for all of us — “then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” – What you left behind, where is it going? Who is it going to? You need to think about it and pray about it. You need seek God in that.

Luke 12:21: “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

This is where virtual reality comes into actual reality. In that same sermon on the mount that we referenced not long ago, Jesus says this:

Matthew 6:19: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:”

Matthew 6:20: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:”

Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Think about that, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Where is the most important thing in the world to you? That is where your heart is. That is what your treasure is: the most important thing in life to you is your treasure. Where is your heart? I want you to think about that and I want you to understand it.

That Which is Temporary

Let me share some things with you to help you think. I am not saying to not work hard, I am not saying to stop paying for anything, you need to do those things. I am saying understand that most of it is only temporary. What do I mean by that?

Wealth is only temporary. I have known some folks in my time that came into money suddenly. Some got it via lawsuit. One fellow told me he won the lottery twice. The odds of winning it once are incredible, he said he won it twice. I believed him because he had evidence to show it. There was a time when I knew this man when he ended up with nothing, after winning the lottery twice he ended up with nothing.

I have known people who have come into inheritances and inherit a great deal of money and maybe two years later have none of it. There are reasons for it. Some say they could have planned better or invested better, and that may all be true.

What I am trying to get across to you is this, wealth is temporary. If you amass billions of dollars, someday you are going to be gone and it is not going to be yours anymore. Wealth is temporary.

Let’s go a step further. Health is temporary. You can be strong and healthy, and you ought to be trying to take care of yourself, you should. Heath is temporary. On the other side of the coin, so is trouble. Trouble is temporary. You go through trouble. You may say that you have been going through trouble for a long time and that may be true but that will not always be there. Trouble is temporary.

Popularity is temporary. Do you know Duncan Rinaldo? You probably do not. I met that man, and I was very impressed to meet him. He was very famous. That was probably around 1957 or 1958. He was famous back then. He is not famous today and he is not walking on the earth today either. But at that time, he was very famous. When I met him, he addressed a baseball stadium full of people, and now you do not even know who he was. Fame is temporary.

So much in this life is temporary. Do not be deceived, do not be caught up in the things that are temporary.

That Which Lasts

Focus on those areas of life that are going to last forever because that is the true reality – those things that are going to last. What are some of those things?

Well, your influence on other people will last forever, it will. You are influencing people all the time. Many times, you do not even know that you are influencing. You have no idea that you are influencing them, but you are. Your influence on other people will last forever.

If you have trusted the Lord as your Savior, hear me, your salvation will last forever. Jesus makes that very clear in John chapter ten that I referenced this morning about the Good Shepherd. He makes it very clear:

John 10:29: “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

One fellow said to me that Jesus said no man can take you out of the Father’s hand, but you can take yourself out. I told him to wait a minute and that the scripture says, “no man” and that it included himself. It says, “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Your salvation will last forever.

Your testimony for Jesus Christ will last forever. We sang testimony songs tonight. Your testimony is going to last forever. Whether you left a good testimony or a bad testimony, it is going to last.

And then, the things that you do for Christ will last forever.

I Corinthians 3:13: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”

I Corinthians 3:14: “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”

I Corinthians 3:15: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

This tells us of the judgment seat of Christ, and we will stand there and all our works as believers. This is not a test to see if you get into Heaven or not, by the time you come to that seat, that has already been determined. It is a judgment as to how you have lived. In I Corinthians three, Paul tells us our works will be tried by fire. Those things done selfishly, those things done vainly will be burned up. But those things which will last, work we have done for the Lord, things that count like gold, silver, and precious stones, they endure the fire.

So, the question becomes this: What kind of reality are you living? Are you living in actual reality where everything is real or are you living in a virtual reality where everything is a fantasy and things are not real? James referred to it as, where everything is like a vapor.

I’ll share one other thought with you. You can do virtual reality in a computer setting, playing sports, and all kinds of things. I thought about flying aircraft, but you can do all kinds of things with it. But what happens when someone pulls the plug? It is over, isn’t it? That is it. The saddest part about it being over is that it was never real to begin with.

Get in-depth knowledge by viewing or listening to the sermon: Are You Living in Virtual Reality?

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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