Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
Ever had a splinter? A splinter is a small thing. It can be biological, usually wood or bone, or sometimes non-biological like glass, metal or fishhooks. A splinter is a small thing that can cause great distress in your finger or wherever else it may be. It hurts and throbs and distracts you. Some splinters have led to amputations and death.
Recently, as a nurse in a family clinic, I sat with a patient who had a splinter in his finger, and the conversation turned to faith, the big questions of why we are here and how God works in the world, which brought to mind The Matrix movie franchise which turned 20 this year.
“Something is wrong with this world, you’ve known it all your life, you don’t know what it is. It’s like a splinter in your mind … driving you mad,” said Morpheus in The Matrix.
The character Trinity says to the main character Neo, “It’s the question that drives us Neo … it’s the question that brought you here.” Trinity also goes on to say, “The answer is out there and it will find you, if you want it to.”
It’s possible for the answers to be right in front of our face, but if we’re not looking for them, we’ll completely miss them. When we keep ourselves so excessively busy in life that we leave ourselves little or no time to explore the answers to these very profound deep questions.
The Matrix movies are derivative of several religions and not distinctly Christian, yet there are several allusions to Christianity in the movies. A hull plate in Morpheus’s ship Nebuchadnezzar has the inscription “Mark III No. 11,” an allusion to the scripture Mark 3:11. Neo is an anagram for The One. Neo then is The One who is prophesied to liberate humanity from their imprisonment in their computer-generated virtual reality. He must die – he is killed in room 303 which symbolizes the Holy Trinity. After 72 seconds (72 hours or 3 days) Neo is resurrected and then ascends into the heavens. The Matrix movies, like many other works of literature and cinema, reflects our collective desires to believe in something real beyond our distorted perception of reality and our sinful natures.
As Christians we “see through a glass darkly,” realizing that our perceptions on this earth are distorted and limited. And the splinter (sin) in our minds relentlessly reminds us that we are destined for more.
When Christ ascended, the shadow of the High Priest in the Tabernacle in the desert is replaced by the ultimate reality. A real human, our Great High Priest sits on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. He represents you and me.
The reality of Christ’s incarnation and future second coming gives us hope and faith in our daily realities and provides us with a distinction between what is true and false, fantasy and reality.