Want a VIRTUAL Dinner?

With the sharp rise in the spread of Covid-19, many people who would usually gather with extended family are staying home. Will they miss the gathering? Of course, but an email from one of the health associations has a suggestion: “Try a virtual dinner.”

I can’t imagine that too many are interested in a VIRTUAL thanksgiving dinner!

Some things we can associate easily with “virtual.” The image on our screen right now is virtual. Turn off the power, and it is gone. But a virtual DINNER? We know what they are saying, but taken literally, a “virtual dinner” would mean virtual meat, virtual potatoes, virtual fruits and veggies? Not exactly what we are accustomed to. And what virtual nutrients would we get?

During the later years that I was caring for my mother, whenever I would suggest something to do, or to eat, she would almost always ask, “Is it real?” I couldn’t guess what was the “real” question on her mind, but she asked it again and again.

Now we can imagine a “virtual dinner” that LOOKS good, appetizing, colorful and appealing—that is easy. But what is it worth in real VALUE? Where is the nutrition?

Isn’t there a lesson here? Isn’t “virtual” a good simile for the things of this world? They may LOOK real, but touch them, and they’re gone!

Remember blowing bubbles when you were young? Weren’t they an early example of something “virtual”?

Why do we call the things of this world VIRTUAL? Perhaps 3 reasons:

1- Virtual because they have no permanence
2- Virtual because they give no lasting satisfaction
3- Virtual because they can promise no future

Let’s think about each of these.

1- Virtual because they have no permanence

What did John say about the things of this world? Why should we NOT set our heart on them?

1 John 2:15–17  15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

All virtual. All passing away, even as they go by. Going, going, going…gone!

What is happening to it all?

17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Only ONE lasts: he who does the will of God.

Paul said the same about the fashion of this world:

1 Corinthians 7:31  31… For the fashion of this world is passing away.

James said it about the rich of this world:

James 1:10  10the rich in his humiliation, …as a flower of the field he will pass away.

Job said it of the winners of this world:

Job 21:13  13They spend their days in wealth, And in a moment go down to the grave.

The Psalmist said it again about the fleeting nature of this world:

Psalm 39:6  6Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.

A second reason why this world is all “virtual” even when it looks so real?

2- Virtual because they give no lasting satisfaction

Didn’t Solomon find this out? What did he think would satisfy?

He tried wisdom –of this world? For God had given him heavenly wisdom, and obviously Solomon was not satisfied with it.

Ecclesiastes 1:16–18  16I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” 17And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind. 18For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

All virtual. Nothing real. Only grasping for the wind.

Solomon tried pleasure, laughter, merriment.

Ecclesiastes 2:1–2  1I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”

All virtual. No lasting satisfaction, nothing REAL.

Solomon tried—everything his heart could desire!

Ecclesiastes 2:3–7  3I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, …. 4I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house.

Solomon needed the servants to care for all he acquired!

9So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.

What was his conclusion? No satisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:11  11Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:15  15So I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, It also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This also is vanity.”

All vanity. Nothing REAL.

3- Virtual because they can promise no future

Paul captured this point solidly. If there be no resurrection, it is all virtual. Nothing REAL!

1 Corinthians 15:13–19  13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.

16For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Without the hope of resurrection there is no future; we are at the level of the animals.

The Psalmist applied it to even the honorable of this world. Without a knowledge of God and the way to life, it is all virtual.

Psalm 49:12, 14  12Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish. 14Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.

Psalm 49:20  20A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.

How do we get what is REAL? Where do we go for what will truly satisfy, and satisfy eternally?

Even Solomon had the answer—if only he had heeded it!

Proverbs 22:44By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life.

Combine humility and reverence for God and His law, and it all can be REAL – real riches, real honor, real life!

The apostle Paul also had the answer. The condition was “Be separate.”

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 17Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Think of being REAL members of God’s family! REAL sons, REAL daughters. REALLY belonging!

Another reality is SALVATION

2 Corinthians 4:17–18 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Not what we would expect, but clear enough:

What you SEE is VIRTUAL (temporary)
What you CANNOT SEE is REAL (permanent)

Nothing “virtual” for Paul. He was attracted by the REAL thing—the BEST. He made his plans to be at the REAL “Marriage supper of the Lamb.” Nothing VIRTUAL about it! And it will be in the company of ALL the faithful!

Revelation 19:99Then [the angel] said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

All TRUE, all REAL. Let’s do our preparing now, so we can be there to enjoy that REAL dinner, that feast of immortality!

Let us hear the song: Come and Dine!