One of my all-time favorite movies, though it is very dark, is “The Matrix” (1999). In this movie, I see some parallels to the Christian life. If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s a Sci-Fi type of movie and the main character is a young man named “Neo.” Neo suspects that there is something wrong with the world he perceives, but he can’t put his finger on it. He meets up with a sage, “Morpheus,” who tells Neo that what he senses is correct. The world he thinks he lives in is actually a fake world, a virtual world. What he perceives as America in 1999, where he works as a computer software engineer, is nothing but an illusion. The true reality is that he is living in the 22nd Century, that his body is hibernating and is being used for his thermal energy (to power up machines, who have now taken over the world). The machines have devised a mental illusion in his mind (called “The Matrix”) to keep him and the other human energy units placated and comfortable.
In one key scene, Morpheus gives Neo the opportunity to be free from the illusion and live in the Truth. This involves taking a “Red Pill.” Morpheus does not candy-coat the process: waking up from the illusion will be frightening and wild, but at least he will be free and living in the Truth. However, Morpheus also gives Neo the choice to take the “Blue Pill.” In taking this pill, Neo will forget this conversation with Morpheus ever took place and he would continue living in the illusion – not free, nor true; but certainly comfortable and predictable.
Of course, Neo takes the Red Pill, and his adventure takes off.
I find this very similar to what Christ offers His followers and the process of transformation through the Holy Spirit. Like Neo, we live in a false reality – the illusion of the “world.” In this illusion we think we are in control – as we live, eat, drink, sleep, fall in love, have families, work jobs, go to church – but in reality we are being “played” by the deceiver, and every decision we make (good, bad or otherwise) perpetuates the illusion. However, Jesus offers a new reality, the true reality he calls the “Kingdom of God.” In this reality we find Truth, Freedom and Love.
But Jesus does not candy-coat the process. He does not promise comfort, ease, and safety for our “status quo.” Rather, in order to follow Jesus, it requires “denying self and taking up our cross” (essentially, dying to ourselves). It means we are no longer in control. It means becoming humble so that we rely on God. It means letting go of things that might be dear to us; even things that are a part of who we are.
It means taking the Red Pill.
I think, in some ways, the Christian Church has done a disservice to many in “candy-coating” what it means to be a Christ-follower. I don’t want to rag on any church or Christians in particular, because we’ve all done it. In our desire to “get people to heaven” we tell them that if they want eternal salvation all they have to do is pray a prayer to ask Jesus into their heart. But we often neglect mentioning the cost of discipleship. We never mention that they will have to undergo a process of transformation that will totally change them; sometimes painfully so. We rarely, if ever, mention that to follow Jesus means that we will have to learn things that are counter-intuitive, like: to love people we now hate, to give of our lives sacrificially for the good of others, and to forgive those who may have brutally wronged us. But all of this is absolutely necessary if we are to truly be free, living in the Truth, and experiencing unconditional love and grace.
By not understanding and explaining the real process of transformation in Christ, we are simply taking the “Blue Pill”: relegating the Christian faith to forgiveness in the hereafter, but choosing to continue to live life in the comfortable “illusion.” And then we are surprised at how little impact Christians have in this world, how they are no different from anyone else in the world. When you take the Blue Pill, how can you honestly expect to be different?
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to chime in on this topic of Christ-centered transformation. It will be interspersed with “lighter” devotionals that are more situational; what I call “Worship in the Everyday Ordinary.” But I really sense I need to share some deeper things on the process of transformation, without “pulling any punches” (all of which, of course, go back to myself!) For Whole Life Worship is about transformation: we offer ourselves to God, totally and without reservation, so that He can transform us into the people He created us to be – free, truth-filled, grace-filled, Spirit-empowered and Spirit-guided world changers.
But this involves taking the Red Pill.
So which one do you choose: Red Pill or Blue Pill?