A couple of years ago, I was watching a video in which Bruce McNicol (of Trueface) discussed what he called “The Matrix”. His words hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized I often live in a matrix when it comes to the concept of God’s grace. I do not think I am alone.
Too much knowledge, not enough experience.
Many believers have access to plenty of knowledge of what Scripture says. Preachers preach it. Sunday School teachers teach it. Small group leaders facilitate the presentation of it. Apps on our phones will even read it to us straight out of whatever translation we want to pick. In America, most of us are not lacking the ability to learn what is in the Bible.
While being free to learn and know so much about God, the abundance of knowledge does not necessarily make us livers of what we know. Beyond a shadow of a doubt He knows us intimately. However, just because we know things about Him does not mean we are experiencing the love and grace He wants us to receive.
Love must be experienced for it to be real to us. Otherwise, it is just another word.
Knowing things but those things not sinking in and changing my perspective is “The Matrix” that I’m referring to. Me telling people my wife loves me because she tells me so does not equate to me embracing her love for me. In fact, she cannot make me receive her love no matter how much she loves me. Also, my effort to learn more about her and reciting her words to me that she loves me does not lead to intimacy with her. Sure, those efforts on my part may be helpful, but they will not assure me real, deep connection with her. It is the same with God.
So many of us go to organized religious settings, sitting and listening to sermons, participating in small groups, listening to “Christian” music, and reading our Bibles and “Christian” books. Again, while these activities may provide much needed truth, we can easily wind up in “The Matrix”…knowing a bunch of things that we don’t really experience in our daily lives.
We must acknowledge what we know but don’t truly trust.
How can we avoid being trapped in “The Matrix”? First, it is good to openly acknowledge those things that we say we believe that there is little to no evidence that we actually believe. For instance, God says He loves me unconditionally. Therefore, if I find myself constantly working hard to try to please Him out of fear of rejection, then I am not truly resting in the reality of His never-ending love for me. This type of realization is not easy for most of us. We are very used to just saying what we are supposed to believe as if we actually believe it. Many of us have learned to “fake it until we make it”. Hogwash. God doesn’t want us to fake a thing. He desires that we trust Him by acknowledging our struggle to believe truths and to surrender those things that keep us in bondage…including those things that keep us locked up in “The Matrix”.
We must let ourselves be loved.
Second, we must embark on the wonderful, but often scary, journey of letting others love us. This requires us to practice humility in order to let people into our lives. This means taking off the masks we hide behind so that people can see the real us. Then, when they love us, they are loving US…not our masks. Then, and only then, can we receive the love others have for us. Otherwise, our masks keep it from us.
Living and experiencing love from our Father and each other is what grace is all about. The Matrix serves only to put forth the false image of living out the gospel as we can recite it without any experience of it changing our lives. The gospel of grace is so much more than a theology for us to learn and know. It’s an environment. It’s relational. It changes everything.
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