I am a nerd.
If I have not made that evident, this post will surely remove all doubt.
I love nerd things. I love sci-fi, I love Start Wars, I love Comic Books and I have tried to keep up with the new story arcs throughout the years. I squeal at every new Marvel Movie and GOTG (Guardians of the Galaxy, sorry non nerds I realized you wouldn’t know the acronym) was my favorite movie of 2014. I love to read and read and read. I love to read dystopian novels like 1984, Brave New World and One Second After. The Walking Dead is filmed in my back yard. Well, not literally my back yard but not that far away over here in Atlanta, GA. I can remember hearing radio announcements that would say, “if you hear gun fire or see zombies/walkers don’t freak out it is just the Walking Dead filming.” I revel in the fact that you may be thinking to your self “The Walking Dead isn’t nerdy, I like it.” That is awesome news to this nerd whenever nerdy things are more popular with the regular folks like you maybe. But the point I am trying to get across is I probably easily fall into the nerd/fanboy category when it comes to my tastes in entertainment. I like deep thought, I like deep books and movies and I love to talk about deep things especially theological stuff, like apologetics and junk. I am a theology nerd which is a rare Captain Planet like combination of Geek, apologist, theologian, nerd. When those powers are combined you get Captain Grace Nerd or something like that.
Therefore, I believe this illustration may not translate well to some, especially those who may roll their eyes at deep theological thinking and Sci-Fi as being a waste of their time or rubbish. But for those who are wanting me to get on with this post to serve up some theonerd sauce, this post is for you. Actually, it is for anyone who may not have figured out this grace thing out yet. I was in your shoes not that long ago and I hope this helps.
There was a movie that came out in the late ‘90s that spawned a trilogy called “the Matrix.” I absolutely ate this movie up. If you had asked me at the time I would have said that it was my favorite movie of all time. If you haven’t seen this movie you really need to go see it, unless of course you believe that seeing a rated R movie will send you to hell…wouldn’t want to send you into that dimension of guilt and personal unholiness. I think it may come on AMC and or FX from time to time so wait and DVR that version; it should be on a more righteous setting for your taste.
Surely I am not the first one to create the parallel which I am about to serve up, it is just too good of a fit.
If you have not seen the movie THIS IS YOUR SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER…
Personally…I’m the nerd who has that funny look and laugh whenever someone says that they have never seen Star Wars or the Matrix…”YOU’VE NEVER SEEN STAR WARS/THE MATRIX?” YUK YUK YUK (nerd laugh)
If you have seen the movie, you will remember the scene where the character Morpheus who has been to the real world and now operates freely and miraculously in the Matrix presents an offer to the other character in the movie, “Mr. Anderson” or his real world name “Neo.” No, my theological illustration is not comparing this to the Saul/Paul difference of before/after Christ identities, which is a neat one to make. But what I am going to try to go after is something a little deeper I think. In this scene of serving up his offer to Neo, Morpheus presents this choice to him and says,
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”
Did this not have your theological connections spinning? Haven’t we heard this before? Remember Neo taking the red pill to realize that he is waking up from a prison cell; a cell that he has never been able to see before until now?
That is how I feel every day when I realize that Jesus has set me free from the bondage of the Law and Sin. Grace has opened my eyes to see that I am now free from the bondage of my sin and my failure to fulfill the law. The Spirit of life has set me free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
In the rest of the movie, even though Neo now knows the truth, he still hasn’t fully realized what He is capable of in the Matrix. It is not because he hasn’t trained to know, earn, or learn what he is capable of but it is about renewing his mind (yeah, renewing your mind, that connection can be made in the Bible too, Romans 12:9). It wasn’t until Neo finally “got it” and realized who he was in the Matrix was he able to see the construct of the Matrix and how the enemy operated in it. He was able to move freely, he was not bound by the law of the Matrix and was able to see through the Matrix because of something he always had with him but never knew how to tap into before, until coming to grips with his new identity. Remember that part when Morpheus gets the question from Neo about what he will be able to do when he understands his new identity?
Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.
That is like what has happened to those of us who finally get what God’s grace has done to us. By God’s unconditional gift of grace, our new identity is in Christ, not in who we were before; dead slaves in our Matrix, Ghost Buster goo pod. We now have everlasting life, reconciled with God forever, Because of Who Jesus is and what He did. Our earthly shells may fail us but our identity in Christ never will. What I am trying to tell you is not that you will be able to fulfill God’s law by growing in obedience, growing spiritually, mastering your sin, gaining righteousness and gradually getting better and living righter because of Grace.
I am not telling you that you can dodge the Law. No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that because of Who Jesus is and What he has done for you, you won’t have to.
Jesus is the only person who ever can and ever will fulfill the law. That is why our only hope is to rest in and have faith in Jesus. That is why Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to God, be reconciled with God without going through Him (John 14:6).
Many of us have grown up in a prison cell in church or by a church where we are told that there are certain rules that we cannot break if we want to remain in close fellowship with God. We are told that if we do not obey the rules of the Law or the Matrix than we will surely die and surely be in a position where God must thrash us.
Yet this kind of talk does not even belong in the conversation in regards to someone who is in Christ. Romans 8:1 makes it clear that there is no thrashing available for us. These threats from these “Matrix Churches” are empty and quite honestly, a lie, all out of ignorance, lack of seeing the truth of the gospel of grace; or worse, out of a demonic desire for control and power over the members of said church. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took your thrashing and God has offered you grace.
Grace in the realization that we are sinners and our only hope for mercy is Christ. Knowing that God has given you grace by having faith in Christ changes everything. It is like taking the red pill. Does that mean life will now go perfect? In the movie the Matrix that certainly was not the case, they still had their problems. But as for Neo, he was no longer slowed down or enslaved by the Matrix. The Grace of God frees us from being slowed down and enslaved by Sin. Seeing this, growing into grace, lets you see the Matrix or better yet our world as it is. Grace shows us how we can move through life unhindered by our sin and slack fulfillment of God’s Law because of Christ who is in us.
Christian, this is something that cannot be earned and cannot be learned. It is something that has, is, and always will be present in you. The only thing that is holding you back is that you are still stuck in the mode of waiting for something from Christ when you already have everything in Christ.
Christ alone, Christ in us changes everything.
You might begin to notice opportunities to show grace to people who are spitting in your face or hurting others. You will notice opportunities to serve and love other people. You might even find a way to show grace to “Christians” who are still stuck in the Matrix of the gospel of works. You will start to see the moves, steps and strategies of how God has divinely placed you in situations and conditions for His glory and for the gospel of His grace. You will come to realize that there are no such things as coincidences and luck but were always God’s divine strategy, sovereignty and will; all done for the glory of His name. You will laugh and feel joy/praise on those days when you do not feel like you are saved because of how you just jacked something up or thought BECAUSE you KNOW that God’s grace is STILL with you and that God will NEVER leave you and WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU (Romans 8:35-39). The one distinction I might make that would be more in line with how we are woken up from our spiritually dead condition, is if the movie showed Morpheus hover over to Neo’s bubble bath prison pod, leaned down to his ear and said “Neo, WAKE UP.”
This is how it is with us when God calls us to salvation. Our condition was dead, yet God’s gift of grace said to our spiritual corpse “wake up” and we did. Think how silly it would look if we said, “man I’m so glad I woke up when God told me to, thank goodness for that righteous work of mine.” It was all God, y’all. All God.
If God has given you the red pill of being saved by grace through faith in Christ…”there is no turning back…remember: all I’m offering is the Truth [Jesus]. Nothing more.”
To the real world.