Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Self and Grace

Probably one of the most lasting influences on me in the recent years has been how the Lord has used my love of movies to speak so powerfully into my life, especially through the movie The Matrix. The following lines from the movie keep me seeing, with increased awareness, how pertinent they are to so much happening in and all around me:

Morpheus to Neo: “I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?”

I want to emphatically say that I believe there is a world of truth in this quote. From our very beginning in the re-birthing, there was an innate knowing that there was something wrong with this world into which we were born. As time progressed, because of this world we were ‘in’ but not ‘of’, we discovered that there was a sense of an undertow trying to move us away from the reality of further discovering who and Whose we were; but in every case we slowly but volitionally acquiesced to this inner entrapment, fully alive in our spirit union with our Father but sadly, having only an outward form of godliness without any real power in our daily living.

Morpheus: “The Matrix? Do you want to know what it is? The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”

Neo: “What truth?”

Morpheus: “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

In light of where I currently find myself in this journey of discovering that I didn’t receive a spirit of fear in being received of the Father, but a spirit of overwhelming love whereby I cry “Father”, and as His love continues to wash over me from within, the fear-based cloudiness of my thinking is being displaced with a definite knowing that nothing is as it appears.

Morpheus: “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

It’s important to state that I do NOT see my fellow siblings as the “enemy”, but I do see the influence of our common enemy working to keep us from a mutual love affair revolving around the Son alone - and nothing else! It is the religious system. It has permeated humankind and its alluring, flirtatious seduction has deeply embedded itself in all flesh, ergo the quote, “And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

The turning point in the reformation that gripped the ensnared hearts of so many was as follows, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, wherein we boast.” No matter how well any of us channel these words of truth, it seems at a heart level most have no idea of their liberating power. This is evident in the fact that we blindly continue to try and earn His favour, desperately craving His approval and affirmation.

The grace of God has been turned into a Velcro add-on to our independent self’s desire to be seen as something that increases our personal reputation or status.
Consider this quote as written by my friend William (Bill) Landon in his book, The Rise and Fall of Self (The Problem with Us is Us).

“In order for us to receive the full blessing of grace we must give up all idea of earning God’s favour. You cannot work your way into a system founded on grace: “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” The independent self cannot have any part in the work of grace except to receive it. If we cannot earn God’s grace then we cannot get any personal reputation or status out of that receiving. It is for this reason that the independent self finds grace an unacceptable and unsavoury idea.
The independent self would rather work for God’s favour than receive that favour freely. This may sound idiotic (and it is) but it is neither incomprehensible nor is it without a certain logic. The independent self shrinks back from grace because the cost of grace is the denial of independent living. What allows the independent self to continue to strive is the deception that we can achieve God’s favour by our works. The independent self has been deceived by the evil one into thinking that if it works hard enough it can please God on the merit of its own efforts. Our independent self believes that if we pile up enough “good deeds” God will love us on the merit of those deeds. If this is the case, then we can get God to be in our debt. What this amounts to in the end, is an attempt to gain a measure of parity with God. The reality of our living as the bible reveals it is that parity with God has never been possible.



Māris said...

Hi, brother!
It's been a while since my last visit here.
All I can say on this topic written by you and your friend is a BIG AMEN! Of course this is only a little part of the great Picture of God.
These past several days I am realizing(or I'd rather say Jesus has revealed it to me) my so called independent self(I call it the flesh)and on the other hand what remains is the unity of Jesus and my true Me. He has revealed how practically that self is denied to follow His leading and that's a wonderful experience. I think that what I have written is only the visible part of the iceberg. :) Be blessed my dear friend!!!

Rich said...


As always I appreciate your thoughtful responses. You are a continuing encouragement to me, thanks Bro!

Nicole said...

Rich! Wow, great post bro... It was enriching and very inviting!

Dude, the system of the world or system's in the world are corrupt! I speak from experience... If I hadn't been learning how the grace of God is not found in any system, I may have not noticed how bad it really is. My husband and I work for an International school, and needless to say things go down in this joint that I never thought possible. When the love of money is so profound they will go to lengths and bounds to lie and cheat people for money! These are the kind of people we work 'for'. It is a system that is profoundly corrupt in every sense of the word. People under the administration are pathological lier's and have major problems. I am beginning to see that many systems who have the desire to control and are money hungry are indeed corrupt and are so lost in it, that they live and breathe for the system! My eyes are open to this, even more so since we took this job! If it's not one system, it's another! How funny we find ourselves inside this system, when just a few years ago we got out of a religious one! They all have similar functions for sure!

Didn't mean to go off on this Rich, but you have struck something here that is very close to home for me!

Thank You!

Rich said...


Great hearing from you, thanks for stopping by.

“If it's not one system, it's another! How funny we find ourselves inside this system, when just a few years ago we got out of a religious one! They all have similar functions for sure!"

Many look at the institutional/organized ‘church’ as the 'system' but in my opinion it is but one color, flavor, expression of the total system aka the world we have all been born into.

I love how the J B Phillips translation reads addressing this very real issue, " Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity."