Friday, June 23, 2023

There Is No Spoon, Er, Earth

Suggested Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29

Keanu Reeve’s The Matrix revolutionized action film technology with its ground-breaking new methods for filming martial arts sequences. But the idea of being trapped in a virtual world where nothing one sees, touches, or feels has any actual substance was not new to the world of science fiction. For Neo (Keanu’s character in the movie), one of the keys to dealing with this virtual reality was to somehow come to terms with the idea that everything could be manipulated because nothing was real. As he learned from the young Buddhist initiate while sitting in the Oracle’s living room, the secret to bending a spoon with one’s mind was to remember “There is no spoon” just as the key to dodging virtual bullets was remembering they didn’t actually exist. In the matrix, confusing a virtual construct for something real was fatal.

Like the helpless people trapped in the matrix, we often have a similar problem distinguishing what is real and solid from what is temporary and illusory. In Hebrews 12:26-27 we read When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain (NLT). When we think about the world around us, one of the last things we tend to think about the earth is that it is stable and shakable. Even those who live in places where earthquakes are frequent don’t believe that the earth is simply going to dissolve from beneath their feet. Even when it quakes, we believe the earth to be solid, massive, and substantial. But scripture tells us that the earth and the heavens themselves will be shaken and removed so that only unshakable things remain. Then the passage continues, Since we have a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire (Hebrews 12:28-29, NLT). The earth, the sun, the stars, the very universe itself seems very substantial and solid to us, but in comparison to the Kingdom of God they are easily shaken and removed.

The problems and circumstances of this world can threaten to overwhelm us at times. We can begin to worry about how we will provide for ourselves and our families or how we will ever deal with the obstacles that stand in our way. During those times of hardship and trial, as we are tempted to question our priorities and our commitment to the Kingdom of God, we must remember that the Kingdom of God is the only unshakable thing we know. The world around us, its physical laws, and the problems of our daily lives are things we must deal with, but it helps to put things in perspective when we remember that the Kingdom of God, its promises, and its priorities are more substantial and unshakable than anything else we can encounter. As Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away (Mark 13:32, HCSB).

Deal with life’s problems as they come. Face them head on. But never believe them to be as real or long-lasting as the Kingdom of God. All of creation will be shaken and removed…only unshakable things will remain.

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