Escape from the Matrix

Some time ago, 1999 to be exact, a science fiction movie came out that was both innovative and disturbing; intelligently complex, yet filled with violence. The film was ahead of its time in both subject matter and in special effects. There was nothing ever made like it. It went on to become extremely successful artistically, commercially, and culturally. Enter the world of “the Matrix.” The movie’s writers/directors certainly had an imaginative vision of the world of tomorrow as they wove an exciting, futuristic tale unheard of until now, with its original characters and plot… or was it really that original? In a bleak, man-made landscape a century or two from now, man’s inventions have taken over the world and society is completely oblivious to the fact of this role reversal. The hero of the story is presented as a loner, soon contacted by a mysterious fugitive known by the world to be a wanted criminal, considered highly dangerous. When they finally meet, a shocking revelation of life-changing proportions is presented with the proviso that: once enlightened, the hero cannot go back to his old existence; life would never be the same again for him. He is told that there has always been something gnawing at his mind, not knowing exactly what it is, but strongly desiring to know the truth.

Again, we ask, is this original? This past September, many ecclesias undertook to present the annual “Learn to Read the Bible Effectively” seminars, a now traditional witnessing effort these past nearly 20 years, starting typically in autumn of each year. The brotherhood has put a lot of time, labor, and funding into these exciting seminars, benefiting hundreds of students with a better understanding of Scripture and, God willing, hopefully a wisdom that will lead to salvation. Besides the blessing to our various audiences, it provides inestimable experience to our presenting brethren. Our first night of the seminar brought out a cross-section of the multi-ethnic diversity that is Toronto.

As in years past and in many locations throughout the province of Ontario and around the world, advertisement and venues were booked, registrants were processed, workbooks were handed out, introductions were made as the foundation was begun to be laid. And so it was upon this first night of our journey together, we replayed the scene from the story which every yearning Bible student has for centuries encountered: of his or her introduction to the world that “truly is” versus the one the world “thinks” is, one from which most will never awaken. They were told that the message is very much as the film portrays — only better, as it is God’s Word which came first and will outlast all others who only borrow heavily (and often without due credit) from the One Source. But, like all the best stories, the film lifts this parable of the “world” right out of the pages of Scripture, portraying a society which we already know too well to be containing only “the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.” The Biblical theme of a wondrous hope for tomorrow is never touched upon, however, as the man-made facsimile offers nothing better than freedom in a world bleak, cold, and immoral, a sad commentary on mankind whose future view holds none of the Biblical promises of peace, joy, and fulfillment. And so the hero is told: “You accept what you see only because you’re expecting to wake up…” Our audience was then asked: “Do you believe in Providence?” “You’re here because you know something. You can’t explain it, but you’ve felt it your entire life… Have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real?” The messenger went on… “There’s something wrong with the world, like a splinter in your mind. Everywhere. All around you the world has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth… That you are a slave… Born into a prison for your mind.” And so the messenger offers one of two choices: (where we offer only one!) 1) “To go back to sleep and wake up again and believe whatever you want to believe” or 2) “Follow the passage and see where it takes you. All we’re offering is the truth… nothing more.” But to this we would add: “Consequently, the Truth brings with it a joy unspeakable, of a life blessed now and an endless one to come!” All WE offer is the Truth. Without them knowing, almost every human heart yearns for something better than himself, to know in Whose image he was made: to touch and embrace that which defines freedom and Truth, purpose and love, security and hope, a longing for the unseen and as yet unrealized.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Cor 4:17-18).

Yes, the world is hungry for Truth, but often does not know it. We are the lights of the world, the salt of the earth. We are a city set upon a hill that cannot be hid and we must seek to lift the veil from their eyes. Having salt within us, in our speech and in our actions, we ought to make our hearers thirsty for more, to develop a taste for righteousness, to fill an ever empty and aching soul. Our message must continue as so often we are the only Bibles most people will ever read. And it’s our daily duty to lead them to life; our commission to help them “escape from the ‘Matrix.’ ”

Peter Wisniowski (Ontario ASK Newsletter)