In 1999, a movie came out that captured the imaginations of millions worldwide through innovative special effects and an intriguing plot. The premise of the movie, The Matrix, is that all of humanity is living a lie; everything around us is a program designed to keep our minds occupied while our physical bodies are maintained in a sleeping state and tapped for energy. Many efforts have been undertaken to either recognize the Christian themes or, perhaps, construct Christian themes from the movie. I will not attempt a similar effort today.
However, one scene from the movie is on my mind this morning. At one point, the lead character, Mr. Anderson, is faced with a choice of two pills. If he takes the blue pill, his choice is to remain apathetic of the real state of things – to embrace the lie. If, however, he takes the red pill, his choice is to awaken to real existence.
The passage for corporate worship this week at Fellowship was Romans 12:1-2. The second verse of this passage seems to present a similar choice between apathy and true life.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Up to this point in Romans, Paul makes a case for the sufficiency and impact of God’s salvation on man. He says in chapter five that those who trust in Christ have peace with God. He says in chapter eight that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. But then he states in 12:1 that our response to these mercies of God should be a laying down of our bodies as living sacrifices. So how, in gratitude for what God has done, do we offer our bodies as living sacrifices? This may be accomplished by choosing between conforming or transforming.
It should be noted at this point that both of these are forces presented to the Christian – neither originate within the person. “This world” is perpetually assaulting the Christian with influence contrary to the standard and goodness of God’s Word. A Christian will, at times, attempt to resist the world by withdrawal from various activities, recreations, or even entire lifestyles. While these withdrawals may be wise and consistent with a flight from sin, withdrawal alone is not worship. Worship is both the willful working and result of transformation. The outer force that acts upon the Christian in the work of transformation is none other than God Himself, in the Holy Spirit. The daily testing of all things against the standard of God’s will – whatever is good and acceptable and perfect – is both an act of worship in itself and enables right worship through a trained heart and mind. It is a daily sacrifice of the desires of our flesh in favor of trust in the goodness of God and His ways.
We must choose between being conformed to the world or transformed by renewal of our minds. One leads to the apathetic life of living a lie. The other awakens us, ever increasingly, to true life. Which pill will you take for each of the tests you face today?