I loved the movie The Matrix as a teenager. Not only was it a sci-fi movie with lots of cool kung fu moves and slow-motion fight scenes, but it spoke to the escapist fantasies of a generation. If you haven’t seen the movie, the premise is that the main character finds out that his unsatisfying, mundane life is a façade. He and all the world are caught up in a simulation, while in reality, they are prisoners of sentient machines that use them for energy.
That struck a chord with many Gen-Xers and Millennials in the US who have what’s called a postmodern worldview. In their book Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be, Middleton and Walsh describe it like this:
Indeed, instead of long-term commitments, the postmodern self just moves on – to the next game, to the next show, to the next relationship. This is the nomadic self, on the road with the carnival. The postmodern self thus finds itself ultimately homeless. The notion of a settled home or a stable world is, after all, an illusory … construction that can no longer be believed. (p. 58)
Many of my peers are still “on the road with the carnival” – not really seeking truth per se, but looking to transcend the boring realities of this world. America is full of jaded people who have grown weary of falling for sales pitches and false promises. They’re not looking for truth because they’ve given up on its existence or significance.
It is no wonder, then, that the Bible goes largely ignored in our society. It’s not entertaining, it’s not new, and it requires the ultimate commitment. A survey of news articles on the topic show that only a small fraction of church attendees read their Bible with any regularity or depth. A significantly larger margin will confess to belief that the Bible is an important resource for life.
Why the gap? How can we believe something is so important and then ignore it?
I think it stems from our worldview. We’re a culture that values the new. “A new study suggests” bears more weight in our society than “and then God said.” We’re constantly looking for “new” solutions. We believe that our society is advancing in the field of technology, knowledge, and social development. We have physical tangible results – smart phones, cancer treatments, and self-driving cars! We’re a society that sits around waiting for the fix that’s coming that will change everything. But what if we’ve bitten the hook with the bait?
Whole movements of the church have taken us in search of the “new” revelation looking to experience God through our feelings, apparent signs, or miracles. Many Christians acknowledge the Bible, but have the gall to say, “yeah God, but what have you said lately?”
What is the source of truth? How exactly can we find our way in this upside-down world?
We add thousands of laws a year, but is there still injustice? We have thousands of new medical patents, but have we solved mortality? There are more slaves today than ever before in the world. Millions still die of preventable disease, hunger, human rights, and violations. Sin nature still runs its course in creation, unimpeded by technology – yet many westerners would not bat an eye while telling you we are better off now than ever before. Have we added one iota of meaning to our lives? Or have we simply become more efficient at numbing ourselves to the human condition through a steady stream of entertainment and apathy toward truth?
…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
God gives life to Scripture and has seen that all we need is included in it. This has massive ramifications. It means God cared enough to let us know He exists, to show us why we are the way we are, to let us know everything isn’t meaningless, to provide a way to know Him, and ultimately, a way to be rescued from this fallen world.
It is God offering us a way out of the matrix. Our whole world is filled with illusions and lies. Illusions that make us think we have control over morality, purpose, and truth and can bring meaning to our own existence. We’re enslaved by sin that has poisoned our bloodlines and corrupted our entire race. God’s Word pries open eyes that are sealed shut by sin to the realities of our universe and allows us to see the world for what it is.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
God’s Word gives us something worth living for, worth dying for. It’s not remarkable in that it brings new truth or revelation. It’s remarkable in that it’s proven true and unchanged for thousands of years. The Bible is so remarkable because it is the inspired Word of God.
Like the man who finds the treasure in the field, we should respond by using any means to attain God’s truth. Even in The Matrix – some are given truth but would rather go back to living the comfortable lie. Some would rather not go into the field to see if the treasure is real, because they fear the ramifications. Many fear the truth, because it shows us for what we are and demands change. The truth isn’t smoothed over, filtered, polished up – it’s gritty, raw, painful, and requires letting go of all we hold dear. It is a “blessed assurance” of salvation at the expense of burning our idols. It’s taking a stance for truth in a world that calls us hypocrites. It’s devoting our lives to meekness and serving and loving those who have no means of reciprocating.
I urge you all to look into the history of the Bible and its source of inspiration. Many people have suffered imprisonment, torture, and death to bring God’s Word to the world. We have the testimony of the martyrs who counted the cost and found the truth of God’s Word to be more valuable than anything this world has to offer. It’s by this heavy price that we have the Bible in English and hundreds of other languages.
If you would like to learn more about how the Bible is inspired by God, check out Pastor Eric’s sermon series “The Bible On Trial” on the LBC app or website. Also, you can find information on this topic and more by going to https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-inspired.html
– Nathan, Pastoral Intern