The movie, The Matrix is a futuristic movie that depicts computers taking over humankind using humans as a source of power. Only humans have no idea that they are being held captive. They live in a delusion that everything in their life is normal and as it should be. However, the character Neo senses that there’s something more to his life. Morpheus, who knows the truth, connects with Neo who is hungry for the truth. When Neo asks Morpheus, “What is the Matrix?” Morpheus answers, “I can’t tell you, I can only show you.” He then gives Neal a choice to take the blue pill or the red pill. The red pill will show Neo the truth by disconnecting him from the Matrix. The blue pill will allow him to go on with his life as before.
What was interesting to me is the time it took Neo to recuperate and acclimate himself to his new real world. He looked different, and his senses were different. In many ways he had to learn to adjust to what he now knew was real. In time, he learned how to maneuver through the Matrix, no longer a captive. However, he also became quickly aware of how dangerous it could be because agents were aggressively seeking to stop those who knew the truth.
As for Christians, before we can be free of the world system, we must first be able to identify what the world system is. But if we were born into bondage, this can be difficult because we do not necessarily know what it is to be free; we have to be shown. God puts in us a spiritual compass, and we instinctively know when something in our lives is not right. He will use the compass to point us in the right ‘spiritual’ direction so that our perception will adjust to see the truth. Like looking through binoculars and adjusting the lenses to get a clearer picture. Like in the movie, The Matrix, we also have to learn to adjust to our new reality of living as God intended and we have to learn how to maneuver through the world system without allowing it to take us captive again.
What comprises the world system? The world system is our economic system, our banking system, credit systems, local and federal governments, financial systems, and cultural and religious traditions.
In our economic system in the United States, currency is used as a means of exchange for goods and services. In other words, money is needed for virtually any type of trade that’s done in this country. For example, if we are in need of electricity, we could not barter with the electronic company to receive electric service in exchange for mowing the lawn every week. That’s not to say that bartering does not happen. But by law, any exchange that does not include money must still be valued as if money did change hands.
Capitalism is a world system. We call it free trade but the end result became a few large corporations controlling the lion share of what we use in everyday service. Oil companies are one obvious example. As our society moved from agricultural to industrial society, a migration took place from rural communities to the cities. In the cities, we depend on the infrastructure to take care of many of our basic needs such as water, sewage and other utilities. We even depend on our local grocery stores for food. Money is needed to purchase groceries to feed our families. In our larger cities, there is little room to grow a garden that could help feed our families. Or, if there is room, often there is no time to tend the garden or to develop the skill set needed for gardening. Paying for utilities and making a weekly trip to the grocery store is not necessarily a bad thing. But I mention it to illustrate how dependant we are on the world system.
Our financial system which is also tied into our economic system also has us dependant. We are enticed to obtain loans for our homes, cars, student loans, and credit cards. The ease of obtaining loans has taught us that immediate gratification is OK. We are not encouraged to save for our major purchases. So we are baited and then locked into the financial system. We are inundated with messages that say to watch our credit and how important our credit is to living the ‘good life’. In many cases, such as purchasing a home, renting, or applying for employment, we are summarily judged based on our credit score number. Fear tactics are also used to keep us locked into the system. It is scary to imagine that because of a credit score, a person would not be able to find a place to live or obtain a job.
Our culture can also serve to limit us. Our society likes to lock people into specific categories for political, social or religious reasons. But we do it to ourselves as well. All ethnic groups to one extent or another participate in stereo typical behavior regardless of if we are Irish, African American, Asian American, Mexican American, or American Indian or any other ethnic group. Often times there are pressures to act or respond a certain way based on our ethnicity and culture. Traditions within our cultures can sometimes dominate our lives suffocating our free-will.
Religious traditions will also do the same. Often, Christians think that being involved in their church is escaping the world system. But religious institutions are very much a part of the world system. This is not to say that there aren’t good local churches. But church government and structure is of the world system. To say that the structure is biblical would not be correct because the church of the bible operated within peoples’ homes. The true definition of ‘Church’ is the body of Christ. We, as Christians make up the Church. It has nothing to do with a specific building or religious denomination.
The world systems are not necessarily bad, but it leaves a lot of opportunity for idolatry. If the world system such as the credit system can keep us in fear to maintain a good credit score or keep us trying to keep up with the Jones’, then our focus is not on God, but on the idol or on ourselves.
I once had a Pastor who loved cars and was good at making car deals. He would purchase a new car every year. His focus was on obtaining his dream car, a hummer of which he did achieve. His response when questioned was that he worked, so he could get whatever he wanted. But God wants us to humbly submit to Him. That includes all of our wants and desires. How can we carry out God’s will on earth if we are constantly concerned about our own will?
The Pastor’s love for cars became an idol to him. He did not put God first; he put his love for cars before the will of God. What’s most important about this story is that the Pastor’s actions opened the door for demonic influence not only in the life of his family but also the congregation.
Idolatry is a gateway for the demonic to enter into a person’s life and gives strength to the anti-Christ spirit. This is how we become captive. Most of the time, we don’t realize that we have been caught up in a web of deception. The world system today has many open gateways that have allowed the anti-Christ to gain strength. The machines in The Matrix needed humans for power. The anti-Christ spirit needs for us to fall into idolatry as this gives the anti-Christ more power and influence within the world system and within our lives. The enticements are all around us. Advertising is a strong tool used to draw us in. But as we learn to keep our eyes on God and as we humble ourselves before God, we will learn to see not only the shackles that hold us captive, but the gateways in our lives that can lead us back into idolatry.