How are your eyes? Do you see clearly around you?
Scripture gives us a lens we can look through. Jesus gives us a lens we look through too.
I recently re-watched The Matrix for the umpteenth time. It came out in 1999 and the movie is still relevant as ever. And it is chock full of theology. The basic premise is that what we see in the world is not the real world.
The part that stuck out to me this time related to Cypher – the character who betrays everyone. He makes a deal with the Smith Agent to betray the crew in exchange for being re-inserted into the Matrix, forgetting everything. It’s just too painful living in the real world for Cypher – seeing what it is really like. He’d rather live in a lie.
When we see the world through the lens of Jesus, our eyes are opened, much like taking the red pill in The Matrix.
And once you can see clearly, there is no going back.
When you look through the Jesus lens, you see the idol of money and how it is worshiped and how we listen to it to make all our decisions. When you look through the Jesus lens, you see the idol of violence and how it is worshiped and sanctified. You see the idol of might makes right.
To question any of these idols (and others) is to bring condemnation on yourself. It can be costly for some. You might be considered crazy or unpatriotic or something worse.
What’s really crazy is how we prop these idols up and do what we can to maintain the systems that keep them in place.
I think we have tried to make Christianity too safe. To put it in a box. To contain it – to contain Jesus. We have sanitized and sanctified safety – assuming that it is the highest good. But that idea doesn’t match up with Scripture or Jesus. The way around that is to discourage people, especially Christians, from reading Scripture. We’re pretty good at that. Reading Scripture isn’t a membership requirement for most denominations. Where the idea of membership and Christianity being together is a whole topic that I’ll never get.
We have made talking about difficult topics in church inappropriate. We can’t talk about money – it might make people uncomfortable. And they might leave or withhold their offerings. We can’t talk about sex or sexuality or gender – it might make people uncomfortable. They might leave or withhold their offerings. We can’t talk about addictions. We can’t talk about policies that dehumanize or degrade people, or put people in danger. We can’t talk about race and racism. We can’t talk about violence. We can’t talk about many things – it might upset someone and cause them to leave.
I wonder, why do we allow our churches to be held hostage by such threats? As if the church is a hostage that is to remain silent on all topics that might be uncomfortable.
There’s a reason these topics are uncomfortable – we may be guilty. And then what? If we are guilty, we might need confession. Oh Lord forbid we admit we are broken and sinful. We’re good people after all. The problem with this is that good people don’t need Jesus. Broken and sinful people need Jesus.
We have made Christianity safe so that we don’t have to be changed or transformed by Jesus. Instead, we stay attached to the Matrix – the lie that we cover our eyes with. The lie that blinds us from seeing the hatred around us. The lie that blinds us from fear, from us versus them, from the evils in the world. The lie that says that we are not connected to any of it. And if we aren’t connected, then we aren’t part of the solution either. We can live blissfully ignorant and detached from what happens in the world because we can tell ourselves that it doesn’t affect us – it’s someone else’s problem.
It’s time to take the red pill and to wake up in the real world. To see it for what it actually is. And to see that we are called to respond to Jesus’ call to love. Love is the only answer. It is the only way that will change anything in this world. We are called to love our enemies. We are called to love our neighbors. We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned. We are called to make disciples.
And that is costly and uncomfortable. And that is how the world changes. We see the world for what it really is, and we participate with God in changing it to the vision God has.