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"Welcome to the Real World": Christianity as the World Outside the Matrix.

Just like Morpheus, Neo and Trinity, we Christians have left a world behind.  We do not belong to this World System (later referred to simply as capital W "World").  In fact, we are "aliens and strangers on earth" (Hebrews 11:13 NIV); we don't belong here.  But we continue in this World that is not our real home (John 17:15).  Our job here is to help others see the truth, the only truth that can help them escape their prison (John 8:32).

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12 NIV
Neo: What are they?
Morpheus: Sentient programs.  They can move in and out of any software still hardwired to their system.  That means that anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an Agent.
Morpheus and his followers fight the Agents, sentient computer programs that can take over the bodies (RSIs) of those still trapped in the Matrix.  We as Christians combat Satan and his demonic followers daily.  It's rarely as graphic or physical as the fighting in The Matrix, although occasionally it may rise to the physical level.  Most of the time, the battleground is our own minds and hearts, and the lives of our friends.

Like Agents inhabit others bodies, demons can take over those still of the World (although some type of opening yourself up to them is necessary).  This is called possession.  I have never seen it myself and I really don't know how common it is, but the Bible records several incidents involving the demon-possessed (Matthew 8:28-34, Acts 16:16-19, 19:13-16).  Fortunately, unlike in The Matrix, you don't have to kill a demon-possessed person to free them.

Agents possess incredible reflexes, agility and strength.  They're so powerful that "every single man or woman who has stood up their ground---everyone who has fought an Agent has died."  Cypher's advice concerning them is "if you see an Agent, you . . . run; you run your ass off."  Although we are becoming something more, we Christians are still human.  On our own, there is no way we have the strength to win these spiritual battles.  Our weapon is the knowledge of the truth, in two forms.

Neo: I know kung fu.
Morpheus: Show me.
First, we have "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17 NIV), the Bible.  How did Jesus refuse the devil's temptations in Matthew 4:1-11?  By quoting Scripture at him.  If you're a Christian, you need to know the Bible, know it as well as your own name, phone number and address (or E-mail if you prefer).  We need to know it not only so we can use it ourselves, but so we can know when others are misusing it.  The second time Jesus answered the devil by quoting Scripture at him, the devil quoted some back.  But, he took it out of context and twisted the meaning to serve his own ends.  We have to be ready for that, because people do it all the time, intentionally and unintentionally.

The second way we as Christians know the truth is personally.  Jesus proclaimed "I am the Truth" (John 14:6 NIV).  He also said that eternal life means knowing him and knowing God the Father (John 17:3).  If we know Jesus, we know Truth, up close and in person.  Paul declared, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV).  If we trust in God, and don't doubt, we, like Neo, can accomplish anything (Matthew 21:21-22).  Too much of the time, though, we limit ourselves and God with doubt and incomplete surrender.
"Everybody falls their first time," - Cypher
Neo didn't really believe he could do it; for all of his psyching himself up and repeating, "free my mind," he fell the first time.  If we do not have the actions to back it up, our faith is useless and dead (James 2:17-18).
"You have to let it all go, Neo: fear, doubt and disbelief." - Morpheus
At the start of the movie, Neo didn't trust Morpheus enough to escape by way of the scaffolding.  He may have believed Morpheus, and he even followed his instructions up to a point, but he did not have enough faith.  If we ask God to help us, we've got to believe that he can.  We've got to trust him and his guidance completely.  If you don't, you are the man James describes, "a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:8 NIV).  In Christ, we can do anything, if we're willing to trust him and follow him.
"Welcome to the desert of the real." - Morpheus
The world outside the Matrix is bleak, cold and uncomfortable.  It ain't pretty, but it's real.  As Christians, the world we see is in some ways a lot uglier than that of non-Christians.  We live in an uncomfortable truth: we're not good enough; we can't save ourselves; on our own, we're headed for hell (Romans 3:23, 6:23).  This isn't picturesque; it isn't pleasant, but it's the truth.
"It's a single-cell protein, combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins and minerals.  Everything the body needs." - Dozer
"I know this steak doesn't exist.  I know that when I put it in my mouth the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious." - Cypher
Outside the crew must eat a colorless, slimy goop.  In the Matrix, Cypher can savor steak anytime he wants.  It's not real; it gives him no nourishment, but he can "enjoy" it.  The World may offer us pleasures, but they have no substance.  Christians may not have food as "spicy" (at least, it may not look so) but it's real.
"You take chicken for example, maybe they couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything." - Mouse
No matter how much Satan tries, he just can't duplicate the tang of joy.  If he ever knew, he has long since forgotten what joy is.  Inside his world of lies, it simply doesn't exist.  Those trapped in this World must settle for poor imitations.  Occasionally they may get a little taste of joy, and that is when they catch a little glimpse of the real world.  If you're not a Christian, I dare you, "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8 NIV).
"All I do is what he tells me to do." - Cypher
We Christians have been freed from the World, but we aren't our own.  We were bought at a high price, and now serve another.  Our obedience now is different from the old slavery.  We serve our new master by choice, because we love him.
"You're going to help us, Mr. Anderson, whether you want to or not." - Agent Smith
Those still trapped in the Matrix serve as batteries for their machine rulers.  They live their entire lives as slaves, without the slightest choice in the matter.  "You used to be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:17 NIV).  Those enslaved to sin serve their master all the time, whether they know it or not, whether they want to or not.  Sin is more than wrong actions: it's an attitude of rebellion against God.  Though non-Christians may not know it, they are slaves.
"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." Romans 6:18 NIV
No matter how you live your life, you will serve another, but you have a choice.  One master only wants to drain you and suck you dry, to keep you pleasantly dazed in a life-long deception.  The other is ready to help you "free your mind" and fulfill your awesome potential.  Which master do you want to live for?

The Nebuchadnezzer is crewed by escapees from the Matrix.  (For the purposes of this essay, we're ignoring those born outside.  In this metaphor, they don't have a real world counterpart; everybody is born into sin (Psalm 51:5).  Sorry, Tank.  Sorry, Dozer.)  In the same way all Christians have to escape from the World that we're born into.  We've lived in the same prison of lies and misery.  As Paul said to the Corinthians, "I don't see many of 'the brightest and the best' among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families" (I Corinthians 1:26 The Message).  Before we were Christians, a lot of us were the rejects, the losers, the ones nobody wants.  But God didn't choose us in spite of this; he chose us because of this (I Corinthians 1:27-28).  God chooses those the World considers nothing and makes them into something no one still of the World could achieve.  He does this to let us understand his power.  Who cares about a god that can make something big out of a success, I worship a God who can change losers to "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37 NIV).

"In Christ's family, there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.  Among us, you are all equal.  That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ." Galatians 3:28 The Message
Those who have been freed from the Matrix form a new society, and a new kind of society.  Black, white and Hispanic cooperate completely, their differences are only on the surface.  Men and women are treated as equals (in fact, Trinity pulls rank on Neo).  Inside, they may have been rich or poor, influential or nobodies, it no longer matters now.  This description also fits the church, the body of Christ.  At least, this is how we, the church should be, and what we occasionally live up to.  Much of the time, we are just as bad as, if not worse than the World in this area.  But there are a few examples out there of what the church should be, united across race, class, nationality and gender boundaries, each member putting forth his or her full effort to serve God best.  If you look for these examples, you can find them.  I would also like to point out that just because a person or an organization claims to be Christian does not mean they are.  I could claim to be an Agent, but if you shoot at me, I couldn't dodge that fast.  The proof is in their actions, if a person or group consistently acts against God's standards, and refuses to change, they aren't worth your time (Matthew 7:15-20).
"Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch.  A prison for your mind." - Morpheus
"You have been down there, Neo.  You know that road.  You know exactly where it ends." -
Like I said earlier, all Christians were once non-Christians.  No one is born a Christian, you may have been brought up "Christian" but a religious framework on your life can't change who you really are.  Every true Christian, at some point or another has gone through the second birth, has been rescued from the World (John 3:3, 5-8).  The only way out is knowing Jesus; he is the truth that frees us (John 14:6).  Because every Christian was at one point trapped in the World, we know what it is that non-Christians are going through.  We know the chains and bars of slavery to sin.  We "know that road. . . . exactly where it ends."  The reason we sometimes go to such lengths, maybe even making ourselves look like fools, is because we know that slavery, and we want to help others escape it.
"You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world." - Morpheus
Unlike the Matrix, this world was not created by the enemy, God created it.  He created for us a perfect world, but, unable to keep the one rule he laid down, we screwed it up.  Our sin marred that perfect world.  Ever since then, Satan has been in control of the World (not the world).  Because we turned away from God, (and therefore toward Satan) God has allowed us to have our way, he allowed Satan control of this World, for the time being.  So, Christians in this World are in enemy territory.
"This is your last chance. . . .  You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in bed and believe whatever you want to.  You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." - Morpheus
Neo did not escape the Matrix by hanging out with Morpheus and Trinity.  He wasn't freed by trying to act like them.  He didn't leave just by putting a phone to his ear.  To leave the Matrix, Neo had to have faith and act on it.

In the same way, a non-Christian doesn't leave the world by going to church.  You can't get saved by trying to be good.  You don't get to heaven by taking communion.  You become a Christian by having faith and acting on it.
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV
You make the decision to believe---to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, to believe that he died for your sins and rose again on the third day.  You act on it by making him your Lord, your master, and living for him.

Morpheus offered Neo two options.  You have the same options.  You can shut your eyes, shut your ears and go back to the World of lies and confusion Satan has ready for you.  You can choose the blue pill, the closed mind.  Or, you can accept the gift of blood that Jesus shed to save you.  You can open your eyes to the new, painful light.  You can choose the red pill.

"No one can be told what the Matrix is.  You have to see it for yourself." - Morpheus
All my words can't really make you understand the prison that your sin has made for you.  You have to see it for yourself.  If you really want to, just ask God to show you.  Even if you're not sure if he's there, just ask.  If you're ready, and you really want to see, he'll show you what your matrix is, this prison built for your mind and soul.  He'll also show you the way out, if you want it.
Neo: What are you doing?
Morpheus: Your muscles have atrophied.  We're rebuilding them.
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You've never used them before.
Upon Neo's entrance into the real world, he was utterly helpless.  His muscles and senses had never even been used before.  He was completely dependant upon his new friends.  In the same way, when we become Christians, we are spiritual infants.  We have an entirely new way of life to learn.  We must be taught all over again, like little children (Galatians 3:24).  We have to exercise new muscles that we didn't even know we had.  We must learn to use our new eyes.  This is why we depend upon one another.
"Their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules.  Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be." - Morpheus
"Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." Galatians 3:23-24 NIV
What led Neo to Morpheus?  The realization that something is wrong with the world.  Neo couldn't live in the artificial system of rules built by the machines.

Those in the World live under a system of rules, whether they know it or not, whether they try to keep them or not.  These rules control their lives.  They must keep them all to avoid Hell, but there is no way to keep them.  They are helpless.

The solution: leave the World and enter God's world, a system built not on rules and regulations, but on Grace and Love.  We Christians have left the World and the Law behind.  Don't get me wrong, we are not "above the law."  We can't just do whatever we want.  But we don't live by rules, we live by love.  God is Love, and he personally guides each one of us.  Sometimes, we do fail (in fact, for me at least, it's quite often.) That is when Grace comes into play.  If we turn back to God and admit we screwed up, he will give us Grace in forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9).  We don't live by rules anymore.
Neo: I can't go back, can I?
Morpheus: No, but if you could, would you really want to?
"They're gonna re-insert my body.  I go back to sleep, and when I wake up, I won't remember a goddamned thing." -
Once we've made the choice to leave the World, can we ever really go back?  Not all Christians agree on this.  I don't believe someone who has really seen the truth can turn their back on it.  Can we forget that sin is slavery and not freedom?  Can we go back?  I guess the more important question is this.  If we could, would we want to?  I never want to go back.  I have made my choice.

Neither Morpheus nor Neo can independently represent Christ, but together, they give a partial picture of him.  Morpheus inspired faith in his followers and sacrificed himself for their sake.  Neo performed amazing feats no one else could match.  He was killed and returned to life, beyond death.  Christ did all these things.  He not only showed us the way; he is the way.  He is our leader, and we follow his command to free those still caught in the trap (Matthew 28:19-20).  We're waiting for the day when the war is finally over and we can all get together and rejoice in heaven.

"All I'm Offering Is the Truth"
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