Define "Real"

“Real” is something the World has become obsessed with recently. The number of “reality” shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice etc has boomed over the last ten years or so, each one claiming to be “reality” in it’s purest form.


Shots are made and re-made using doubles in competitive envirnments and clever editing to avoid embarrassing moments from being shown for what they are – fakes.

Shows like “The Bachelor” or “Mamma’s Boys” claim to be “real”, and we suck it up like it is. Even current affairs or “makeover” shows where homes or even bodies are remodelled to a “perfect” standard are prime television shows. Here in South Africa, Top Billing shows off houses that only multi-millionaires and corrupt politicians could even dream of affording. The average viewer has no chance of affording these “realities”, and the average citizen (taken from the number in the population) still uses a bucket system and doesn’t have electricity, running water – except what comes through the roof – or basic sanitation that more affluent areas take for granted.

I live (at the moment) opposite a less-formal settlement. The majority of the houses are brick and mortar, ut they have corrugated iron and wooden structures in what was designed to be their gardens housing families that rent these “homes” from the dwellers of the brick buildings. We have a dear friend who is such a backyard dweller – a decent couple with three children who were denied sterilisation after their second child – whom they were barely able to afford to feed – because of their ages. They were deemed “too young”. But nobody bothered to support them financially when they were expecting a third child.

Reality is a very subjective word.

My first visit to South Africa was a real cultural shock to me. Cape Town international airport was the least spectacular building I’d ever seen, the processes were incompetent and the staff indifferent. I stepped outside and opposite the terminal was an “Informal Settlement”. This is the politically correct title for a place I wouldn’t consider letting a dog live, but the majority of Cape Town’s population live in these circumstances.

Khayelitsha is by far the largest of these areas, and has more than doubled in size in the last ten years. It’s horrifying. The City Council provides funds for development as it can, and the local members of the National ruling party (who do not control the Western Cape) arrange for protests about lack of service delivery.

Reality is subjective.

So why is this in a Christian Blog?

The Bible also spends a lot of time discussing reality.

Hebrews 11 has been on my mind in particular. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for”.

Substance. Real.

Faith is the “evidence of that unseen”.

Substance. Evidence.

I see my feet, and I flex my toes, and I know they are real and present on the end of my legs. But I can’t feel them. Gradually over the last 25 years or so, I have lost the sensation in them. In the last 5 years or so, this has slowly started to reverse. It defies medical knowledge – it is Faith, and Faith alone that drives it. I got fed up of doctors telling me that “diabetic neuropathy” is incurable and eventually my feet would need amputating – so I stopped asking them for help and went to the Creator of my feet.

Reality check. I have more sensation now than I did 5 years ago. I get pins and needles in my toes, something I didn’t get for many years. It even hurts now when I stub my toe – which is a mixed blessing.

But the reality didn’t start in my feeling my feet. It started in my believing I was healed. Was healed, not will be. The manifestation is taking time, but it’s happening.

“Real” takes time for me.

We have to overcome the unbelief in us to action the faith. It’s harder than it sounds. A party of revolution, such as the ANC, struggles in Government often because it has the wrong mindset. So much time was spent during Apartheid focussing on winning Freedom that very little was done to plan what would be done with that freedom for the majority once it was won. So 20 years on, the poorest members of society here are actually in many cases worse off than before. The tax-paying base is proportionally smaller, and the “reality” of life is this potentially great country has many people dying of hunger, cold and preventable illness on a daily basis.

I’m not generally interested in politics, and never have been. But the reality of the lives of people I meet every day is too much to ignore.

So define “Real”. Every person has a “real” life. It isn’t a Kardashian or a Trump experience generally. Almost nobody lives in a palace.

The majority of people in South Africa will never read this blog because they don’t have access to the hardware to reach it.

The majority of people outside South Africa will read it and dismiss it. After all, I’m a white immigrant here. Obviously I have money and power here. The stereotype sickens me. 25 years ago my marriage would have been illegal here under the race laws. I’m currently self-employed because the new race laws say I’m the wrong ethnicity to offer my experience in business to help develop this country’s businesses become the world-leaders they can be.

So what is “real”?

Real is what we make of where we are. To be honest, my family is considering a move away from this area, possibly out of the country for a while, so we can become financially more stable. Our “reality” is the possibility of losing our home, three years of illness having prevented my wife from working and a cut in our income of about 90% because we were self-employed at the time.

But “Real” is also a state of Hope. Real is the Chariots of Fire camped between us and the enemy like Elisha saw when Syria sent out to capture him. “Real” is what Paul wrote: “If God is for us, Who can be against us”

God is for us. The overwhelming power of the creator of Everything is on our side.
God is for us. Not “will be” or “could be”, but is.
God is for us. He’s on our side, rooting for our Victory so much He gave up Heaven to die on our behalf.
God is for us. Not the World, not our neighbour (although He is), but us. He cares for us intimately and passionately.

That’s Real. Bank on it.

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