Skip to comments.Will Nice People (in the Matrix) Be Saved?
Posted on 05/16/2004 4:09:50 PM PDT by HarleyD
"We must not suppose that if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world." (C.S. Lewis)
A reader recently responded to the above quote by Lewis with the following remark:
"True, but at least there would be less hatred!"
His answer is really how most of us naturally think. But helping to make people nice and moral is like putting a Band-Aid on cancer. Although many Christians may think making America more moral by strong political lobbying is our highest calling it may come as a surprise that morality and and making people nice is not our commission. We have not been mandated by God to do this and I believe this a diversionary activity. If the heart is not transformed or regenerated, all we do, then, is redirect the sin. We then make people into Pharisees and Jesus said that by making somebody a convert to our morality, we merely make him "twice as much a son of hell as [our]selves." This is just repackaged legalism, attempting to attain godliness by a systematic change of behavior which does not spring from a renewed heart.
Our condition is really worse than we ever imagined and we rarely take this very seriously. As an analogy, we could liken our spiritual condition to the the well-known movie, The Matrix. Humankind, in the movie, is blinded to the real world and is really made a slave to serve the interests of something else (batteries for the machines). Those caught in matrix are unaware of their own wretched condition and they go about their business completely oblivious to their plight. Morpheus points out, the world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind [us] from the truth and that humans are slaves in bondage. Reality is no different. Just try and perfectly obey God's commandments for a day and you'll know what I mean. God and our condition can only be known, however, as He reveals Himself in the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes that we might see - and He first reveals our fallen condition as being blinded so that we cannot see the truth:
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5
In one scene of the movie Morpheus says, "Many of [the people in the Matrix] are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it." Then in a similar vein the Apostle Paul likens our real condition to one of bondage where we actually do the enemy's bidding for him and tells us that with gentleness we need to correct those in opposition to the gospel if perhaps God may grant them repentance so....
"...they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:25, 26)
Amazingly, The Matrix shows a deep grasp of our real world condition, whether consciously or not. The Scriptures testify that our problem is not just one where we need to be nice or moral. Just imagine in the movie, if Neo, knew the enslaved condition of mankind (blinded to the truth and made a slave to the machines), would he then waste his time telling people how to be nice or teach them how to change their behavior? If instead of helping to free people from the matrix cyber-prison, Neo decided that the solution was to tell people how to be good and tolerant as an answer to their problems, you would think he was out of his mind, engaging in worthless diversionary activity and we might have him institutionalized. But don't we often, as Christians, waste our time with similar thinking?
Using a similar analogy, theologian R. B Kuiper says,
"A man has been found guilty, shall we say, of a heinous crime and has been sentenced to death. He is now in prison, awaiting the day of his execution. A friend comes to visit him. This friend calls out: "I have good news for you!" Eagerly the condemned man asks: "What is it?" The answer comes: "Be good." In that message there is not so much as a shred of good news. It is most cruel mockery. Yet many a self-styled minister of Christ holds forth to sinners under the sentence of eternal death a precisely equivalent message as gospel."
Bad behavior is really only a symptom of a much greater concern. Likewise, the natural man is in bondage to his fallen nature and chooses only what that inner principle desires most. At the fall we lost the indwelling of the Spirit and now the Scripture testifies that the resulting consequence we find ourselves in is that we are hostile to God, hate the light and no one understands because the things of the Spirit are foolishness to us (John 3:19, 1 Cor 2:14). The real world and our true purpose remains hidden from our eyes due to no fault but our own. Without the supernatural intervention of God to redeem us we are caught in a situation worse than that of the Matrix. In the movie Neo says to Morpheus that he had been looking for him all his life. Morpheus tells him that this is only because he was looking for him first. This is similar with God toward us. He calls us out of darkness, out of slavery to sin and to the devil who has taken the natural man captive to do his will. Our desires are for things we have replaced God with, paltry and vain things. While we build up our dunghill here with our material possessions and pride that replaces the true God with ourselves, God has created us to inherit a much greater promise, the restoration of our original purpose. Don't get me wrong, certainly, as Christians,we ought to be engaged in building up culture, and we should be taking the lead, but a desire to do good does not come about by law, which does, however, serve a positive function of restraining evil. But if we really want to transform society and culture, the inward principle of grace must first take place in individuals. Law is powerless to change their hearts. This new desire will only come to unbelievers by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the heart which changes their dispositions, thoughts, inclinations and affections so that they might delight in doing good. Spiritual resurrection is needed in those dead in sin who have been taken captive to do the will of another. The people trapped in the Matrix could not see beyond the limitations imposed by their captors. Their primary need, before all others, was to have a true view of who they were and what their condition was. Then and only then can life be lived in truth.
It is not about niceness or morality... it is about our condition. If everyone become moral tomorrow it would have no consequence on our enslavement. What we need is the new birth, a resurrection of our soul, a restoration to God's original intent for humankind. What we need is the gospel. Theological liberals and conservatives alike need to recognize that our spiritual condition is much worse than we had thought. The conservatives have a tendency to condescendingly to look down at people with moral corruption and behaviorisms like sexual impurity, homosexuality and adultery all the while forgetting that God is equally if not more angry at pride, anger and bigotry. They are just as dreadfully cracked about the head and desperately in need of mending as the liberal. God's wrath hangs over those who trust in good works, those who somehow really are tempted think they are more deserving than another. Jesus said that many will come to Him on that Day and say, "did we not do [this or that] in your name." Jesus said he never knew them. Why? Because they trusted in themselves, in their goodness, rather than on the finished work of Christ. We must remind ourselves daily that it is grace, grounded in the redemptive work of Christ ALONE that saved us. You are just as much a child of wrath as the liberal if you think you are more deserving.
The liberals then come and say we need to be tolerant and embrace diversity, allow for people of all orientations to continue in their ways since we now know that this is natural and this is who they are. In doing so, they also promote a change of behavior that conforms to the socially constructed philosophy of the day, as gospel. Thus, being taken captive by the culture around them, they strip the gospel of all supernatural influence and fail to recognize that, we all are naturally incapable of obeying God and the gospel. There is no one who is naturally inclined to the humbling terms of the gospel. Prior to God's work of regenerative grace we all have an inward natural principle which is bent on rebellion against God. Conservatives and liberals alike are hold in common the fact that they are spiritually impotent and in desperate need of regeneration. The "world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth" (Morpheus) needs to fall like scales from our eyes (like Paul). Both groups need to repent of trusting in their good works and despair of any hope from themselves, which is the first (graciously bestowed) prerequisite of a sound conversion. The good news is that in the gospel God reveals the same righteousness and faith for us that God demands from us. What we had to have, but could not create or achieve or fulfill, God grants us freely, namely, the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and the faith of Christ. The faith we have is ours but it arises from a new disposition of heart that God freely gives those He came to save. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, "we must be born again."
Very thought provoking. I try to remind myself to respect the sanctity of all life and that we are all made in the image of God. I am torn with the legistated morality because I do not want our government to enable or endorse things that I find contrary to God's will. Remember that Jesus also told us that "whatever you prohibit on earth is prohibited in heaven, and whatever you allow on earth is allowed in heaven"