Part 1: Mr. Anderson
It’s old news that the classic phenomenon, The Matrix, revolutionized film making and was a huge contributor to pop culture. After 20 years, this film still gives me the chills. What’s fascinating about this movie is that it seems to be nearly 100% based on a Christian idea, except it’s presented in the most action-packed, mind-bending, psychedelic fashion.
The Matrix’s opening scene immediately entices you with a standoff between two units of law enforcement and a lone Trinity, an intense fight, a chase and finally, something that appears to be Trinity’s assassination. However, she has disappeared. Whoa! But we’ll get back to Trinity later.
Neo is sleep at his computer when he’s awakened by a message on the screen saying, “Wake up, Neo. The Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit.” This is a classic example of how God often speaks to us, especially when we’re not expecting it. Sometimes cryptic messages are the only things that get our attention. Neo hears a knock at the door and it’s one of his clients coming to pick up a “package.” The clearest moment of foreshadowing happens during their exchange. The client refers to Neo as his savior and personal Jesus Christ. We will get to see Neo’s progress from a regular guy to the “savior” of man throughout the film. The client and his girlfriend are on their way to the club. They invite Neo, but initially, he declines until he notices the white rabbit tattooed on her shoulder. Neo is obedient to the message on his computer screen (the voice of God), and he follows. This decision leads him straight to Trinity and opens the door to his new life. Many of us have questions about next steps. Although, everything may not make sense in the moment, obedience to the Word is the only way to find to find the path (Luke 11:28).
After a night at the club, Neo arrives to work late the next morning, which prompts a reprimand from his boss. The boss so proudly explains that their company is one of the top software companies in the world. He goes on about the rules that every employee must follow. Neo is distracted by the window washers outside as he barely listens to his superior. His boss makes it clear that Neo either needs to get himself together or get another job. This scene is very telling of the Matrix system. It is the mundane, routine of life that most people get trapped in. The washing of the windows is a repetitious action that requires very little skill, charisma or brainpower. The scene symbolizes the mindlessness of those who subscribe to the Matrix, never striving for anything other than today’s trends or challenging themselves to pursue their God-given uniqueness. The tone of the scene is blue and dismal, just like most people’s lives. So often, we plan our whole lives beginning in our teens because we’ve been “programmed” to think that we are all to follow the same predictable and “safe” path.
Americans are expected to graduate college at 22 (maybe earn a Master’s degree), land a good job immediately after college, climb the corporate ladder, get married at 26, start a family by 28, buy a home at 30, become a “big wig” at the company by 35 and retire between the ages of 55 and 62. It’s the same story over and over again, as if this is the blueprint for the ideal life; and yet, most of us miss the whole point of living. Sure, many of us will attend church on Sundays, volunteer in our city and give a small portion of our income to a worthy cause. But these “deeds” are microscopic compared to all that God created us for AND died for us to have.
Neo receives a package at his desk. There’s a phone inside and Morpheus is on the line. Morpheus, the Commander in Chief for those seeking freedom, tells Neo that the Matrix is after him. Neo will be able to escape, but he has to follow Morpheus’ lead exactly. God will lead us to where we want to go, but we are the ones who have the free will to listen to or dismiss his guidance (Deut. 30:15-19). God is not forceful. He is a small, still voice that wants to help us (1 Kings 19:12-13). Neo sees the agents, and they are indeed coming for him. Neo follows Morpheus’ lead until he’s asked to climb on a scaffold, which is situated hundreds of feet above the street. One wrong move, and Neo could become roadkill. He hesitates for a moment. As he makes an attempt, he asks aloud, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do?” Sometimes, we feel that God is prompting us to do difficult things because He’s punishing us. Once Jesus took on the past, present and future sins of the world on the cross (Romans 3:23-25), there was no need for God to punish us after that. There should come a point when you have to release yourself from the idea that just because something is challenging, doesn’t mean that God is punishing you. There will come a time when God will render judgement; but that time is not now (Acts 17:31). God only wants to guide you, and there are times when only way to your destination is through an obstacle. Take comfort that God is ALWAYS with you (Heb. 13:5). He will NEVER give you more than what you can handle; so, you can NEVER lose. Unfortunately, for Neo, and many of us, he doesn’t trust his all-knowing guide and ends up in the hands of the agents.
Once Neo is in their custody, the lead agent makes it clear that he knows everything about Neo. He tries to intimidate Neo, letting him know that his “alternate life” as a hacker will land him in jail because he has broken nearly every cyber rule they have a law for. However, the agent tells Neo that they will wipe the slate clean if he helps them capture Morpheus, a man the agent describes as a terrorist and the most dangerous man alive. Neo pretends to be impressed with the agent’s proposal for a millisecond, but quickly gives him the finger and he demands his phone call. The agent then asks a peculiar question: What good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak? Neo’s lips literally begin to stick together like glue. Within seconds, his mouth is completely sealed shut. Neo panics as the agent takes great delight in his predicament and calmly lets him know that he will help the Matrix whether he wants to or not. The other agents hold Neo down and put a device, which turns into a living creature, inside his body via the bellybutton.
This is how the Devil operates. He first presents his “extensive” knowledge to build a basis of trust or grounds for why we should fear him. He often paints a pretty picture of what your life can be if you follow him, just as he did with Jesus in the desert (Matt. 4:8-9). For those of us who are wise enough to resist, he still seeks to creep into our lives (1 Peter 5:8). Even for those who say yes to him, they find themselves nearly unable to break free of their sin-filled lives (Romans 6:20). Just as the creature was forced onto to Neo, the devil pushes a sin lifestyle onto his victims. They almost don’t have a say in the matter. There is only a small slither of choice left in them just in case they decide to choose God (Titus 2:11). Neo wakes from what he believes is a nightmare, … but it’s very real.
Kirby N. McKinney