“We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented, it’s as simple as that.”
Christof (The Truman Show)
Three of the most thought-provoking movies I have ever seen are: They Live (1988), The Matrix (1999), and The Truman Show (1998). In each film you see a main character struggling to deal with the fact that the world he knows is not real. Each film handles the material in different manner and none of them really come from a biblical worldview but the implications in each one are incredible. Even though all three fall into the category of fantasy or science fiction, there are serious religious overtones. I’m not here to determine how deliberate these theological themes are but as a Christian I can’t help but notice them. It’s not even an idea found solely in Christianity. Many different religions share the idea that there two worlds in conflict with one another. There’s the material world that can be experienced through our senses and then there’s the spiritual world that is invisible.
I have had moments in my life where my own perception of reality was challenged or threatened. In The Truman Show, Jim Carey (who plays the title character) is nearly hit by a lighting fixture that falls from the roof of his constructed world. That sets off a series of events that culminate in Truman’s discovery that he is the star of the ultimate reality show. His entire existence is fabricated. Both Neo (Keanu Reeve’s character in The Matrix) and John Nada (Roddy Piper’s character in They Live) both have similar eye-opening experiences.All three characters reluctantly accept the truth of the world around them even when their eyes continue to deceive them. Like I said, I don’t know if any of the film makers were trying to make grand theological statements (positive or negative) but that is how I see each of these films.
I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately. After going through Matthew and most of Mark I keep coming back to the idea that Jesus was a messiah that people didn’t expect. He preached a kingdom that was unlike anything that people wanted. He was a walking paradox. He was God and man. The majority of the people in his day (including his own disciples) struggled to see the world through his eyes. I believe a lot of Christians (myself included) still struggle with it from time to time. We’re told that we’re citizens of a world that we can’t see with our eyes. We’re also told that we have to be IN this world but not of it. Our perceptions of reality are constantly being stretched. I think that’s how we grow and mature. When we’re in tune with the Spirit, we’ll see things from a heavenly viewpoint. We won’t truly see reality until Christ returns. Until then, we need to continue to look around and see the world through his eyes.
Grace and peace