Monday, March 05, 2007

The Matrix of Merrymaking

In the 1999 sci-fi film, The Matrix, a man named Morpheus frees the movie’s hero, Neo, from the Matrix's tangly grip. Morpheus describes the Matrix as, a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify, subdue and make use of the human population as an energy source by growing them and connecting them to the Matrix with cybernetic implants.

Morpheus presents Neo with a choice, swallow the red pill and you'll be released from the Matrix’s grip and know the truth. You will enter the world of the REAL. Swallow the blue pill, and everything will go back to the way it was; the Matrix will become nothing more than a faint memory of a distant dream. But you’ll still be plugged in.

Neo chose the red pill.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 tells us:

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking."

While I seriously doubt I'm a human battery for a society of nefarious computers, I do see a strong similarity between the human experience and the Matrix, spiritually speaking.

The Matrix is a simulated reality; meaning what is seen, felt and accepted as real is not, NOT reality.
The Matrix is designed to pacify and subdue humankind.

Consider those Christ blessed in his Sermon on the Mount. The poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. As Ecclesiastes says, those who take it to heart that, without Jesus, every life ends in death apart from God.
Consider the various and sundry ways each of us try to avoid meekness, poverty and persecution. For the most part, we are NOT about inhabiting the house of mourning. We are about erecting the house of “partying like it’s 1999.” Decorating it with flashing neon palm trees and ordering up deli trays and hors d’ouvres. Mixing another margarita or coke float. Even washing it’s laundry and mowing it’s lawns.

In the world of the Matrix, life is a party scene. It’s my constant pursuit of a feel-good.
I want accolades and a distraction- something to numb me to the gnawing suspicion that I’m not quite right on my own.

There are days that I feel like I'm living in the Matrix. I allow my focus to drift off the glorious riches of His goodness. I dull my sensitivity to the movement and conviction of the Holy Spirit. I choose a temporary warm-fuzzy over the harder-to-find-but-much-more-valuable, eternal riches.

What seems to be a good thing and in my best interest, is really and truly NOT reality. What feels best to me may, actually, be the worst thing possible because it dulls my senses and numbs me to the reality that I am not well.

In the world of the REAL, I am not a self-made woman but a mere child held preciously in the hand of my Savior.
I am, in the world of the REAL, a sinner standing in need of grace.
In the world of the REAL, I am fallen flesh that's been redeemed for the glory of my Lord.
In the world of the REAL, the perceived weak are actually the strong and those who appear to be fools are actually wise. But our flesh deceives us. And the world deceives us. It lulls us to sleep with its attractive words and baubles and bangles.

The Matrix of Merrymaking keeps me happily asleep to the world of the REAL. But Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, offers us the spiritual equivalent of Morpheus' red pill. Jesus beckons us to see beyond the Matrix of Merrymaking, and to enter the world of the REAL.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

5 Senses: Part 2

Below are some examples of how SPS thinking, with the senses and art, have been used to express a spiritual subject. These are just a small sampling. To see more on a wide variety of subjects, be sure and visit the web site.

The subject of for all of these cards is Worshipping God.

Becky says,
I've heard it said that the blood of martyrs is the fuel for spreading the gospel. When we let go and allow God to consume us, all of us to the core of who we are, we are refined and we burn for others to see. How terrifying it is to say we are God's fuel - when a match is lit and it is near fuel, the reaction is immediate, explosive. What would it look like if we really lived as though we were God's fuel.
Can you smell the sulphur? the smoke? the wood? Can you feel the splinters and heat? Can you hear the striking of the match? the crackling fire?

Trinh says,
I absolutely love the garden. My husband and I... worked feverishly the past month to put in a perennial garden. It was such hard work! We live in an area that is filled with huge rocks and stones so digging even the smallest holes was a challenge.

I feel this way a lot of times about my relationship with the Lord. My heart is the earth filled with so many hard rocks and stones that are so difficult to work with and remove. The Lord is so gracious though - with His love for me, even as a sinner - He plants those seeds within us and as long as we are willing to nurture them and care for them by living by God's plan, in time, we will grow with much wisdom and love and in our own right become the beautiful flowers in our Father's garden.
Can you smell the rich earth? the sweetness of flowers? Do you feel the damp richness of the earth? Ever heard a trowl hit rock when you're digging? Ever tasted a garden fresh tomato or strawberry?

Dena says,
Simple and elegant.

Make it "pop out" as it should in my heart. Keep the visual close and I stay closer on my path. I wanted to add color and when adding the green, they reminded me of the nails - not pointed, not round - painful.

This card represents the brightness I can look for at the cross. The nails Jesus took for me are illustrated in the green paper.
Have you ever heard the cross described as "bright"? or that it should "pop"?