The Matrix and Christianity
I probably see fewer than 4 movies a year. I have a big problem with Hollywood in general. In the early days Hollywood often tried to enrich the spiritual life of society (Biblical epics). Now it often seems it is trying to kill our spiritual lives.
However, the first Matrix movie floored me. When Neo took the red pill and woke up in the pod (or vat), man it was just like when I turned my life over to Jesus and I woke up from the Matrix that we live in called secular society. Like Neo when he woke up in the pod, the first year after my experience with Christ was extremely confusing. Things I had believed for years no longer made any sense whatsoever. Neo said "how come my eyes hurt so much", and Morpheous replied "It's because you never used them before". Neither had I used my spiritual eyes, and when the light of Jesus hit them, I was empowered to see things through my spiritual eyes, but it also hurt like crazy cause no one understood me.
For over a year after seeing the first Matrix, that movie would come into my mind to some extent every morning during my prayer and meditation time. Themes that would break into my meditations would be the false reality that most us live in and contemplation of how I could best wake people up from the Matrix of our society and help them join the "Resistance" (A Christian who evangelizes).
I know the movie is full of violence but there are some powerful concepts in the first Matrix movie that helped my faith walk and helped me understand why I felt so much different than my old friends in secular society who thought I had gone mad. For more about my experience with Jesus check out my testimony.
I think the movie is very powerful because it shows what this world is about. The secular world we live in (the Matrix) is about keeping people unconscious to the Truth. My job as a member of the Resistance (a Christian) is to wake people up.
I invite people to take the red pill (accept Jesus as your Saviour), wake up, become conscious, and join the Resistance (Christianity). If you have never turned your life over to Jesus, please go here.
There are significant differences between the Matrix movie and the teachings of Christianity. Neo, the "saviour" used violence to achieve his goals. Human love brought him back to life after he died in the first Matrix movie, whereas Christians believe God's love is what overcame death. The Lord's name is taken in vain three times, the contempt for a "world built on rules" and attraction to anarchy is problematic. It has Gnostic overtones in places.However, I would rather focus on those parts of the movie which are a useful allegory for us as Christians.
I won't spend any time on the 2nd movie, "Matrix Reloaded" and the 3rd movie, "Matrix Revolutions" because they were, in my opinion, offensive to Christianity as well as poor movies with lousy plots.
The Matrix: our civilization
The Resistance: members of the Christian family including Angels in heaven (people not plugged into the Matrix) and Christians on earth (people plugged into the Matrix.) The only job of the Resistance is to wake people up from the Matrix and get them to join the Resistance.
Sentient programs: angels of the Devil roaming the earth (Matrix) looking for members of the Resistance (Christians) who they can kill or interfere with.
Morpheous: John the Baptist
Neo: you know!
Life in the Matrix is not real life and there is a supreme negative intelligence running the Matrix. It is smarter than any human being. It outsmarts people into thinking they are living life and getting ahead (successful in the Matrix) when they are really asleep, dying and lying dormant in the pod (or vat) with the life being sucked out of them by the source of the Matrix (the Machines- the Devil). In the movie this "life" is human electromagnetic energy - in real world that "life" is our spiritual energy, the soul, that the devil sucks out of us as we are lying spiritually unconscious.
Neo's real name is Thomas Anderson, perhaps referring to "doubting Thomas" of the Bible (since it took him so long to believe he was the One). The name Anderson means "son of man," a title used by Jesus in reference to himself. A character Choi, says to him "Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ." A plate in Morpheus's ship Nebuchadnezzar says "Mark III No. 11," a probable allusion to the Bible: Mark 3:11 reads, "Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, 'You are the Son of God!'" Anderson's hacker alias Neo is an anagram for the One. He is The One who is prophesied to liberate humanity from the chains that imprison them in their computer-generated illusion. First, however, he has to die - and he is killed in room 303. But, after 72 seconds (analogous to 3 days), Neo rises again. Soon thereafter, he also ascends up into the heavens. The first movie itself happened to be released on Easter weekend, 1999.
There is a battle between the machines (an allegory for the
devil and his angels) and the Resistance (Angels and saints.) The
members of the Resistance who are not presently plugged into the Matrix are
kind of like angels because they can help people in the Matrix (by hacking
into it) but are not able to directly interfere in human choice. This battle
outside the Matrix is like the battle in the heavens between the angels of the
devil and God's angels and saints of God.
Members of the Resistance who are plugged into the Matrix and have an identity there, are able to do things that the people in the Matrix can't do. They are more intuitive, have greater power to fight evil etc. But they are reliant on the members of the Resistance who are back at the ship (Angels). Life as a member of the Resistance is exciting. However, the sentient programs are very interested in destroying these members of the Resistance. The sentient programs have no interest in the other people in the Matrix because they know they have them already. The machines that run the Matrix see the Resistance as a threat and therefore try to kill them or interfere with their activities. (an allegory for Persecution of Christians in the Media etc.)
Some people who belong to the Resistance have "real" jobs in the Matrix like those who are asleep plugged into it. But because the Resistance have been woken up to the fact that the Matrix is unreal, they no longer see things in the Matrix in the same way as other people, even though they are doing regular jobs. They see it as an illusion. These regular jobs are just positions like a spy in the second world war who would work in a German shoe repair or other trivial job. But they are simply put there as a posting to achieve the greater end.
The decision to take the red pill is a completely free choice
with no one forcing it. Taking the red pill is an allegory for the choice to
completely surrender to Jesus. It is the only hope for the future. Otherwise
they stay asleep.
The job of the Matrix is to keep people "engaged" in the day to day trivial things of life in the Matrix so they stay asleep and die while hooked up to the pod (or vat). And then they are ejected into the sewer mote (hell). When Neo woke up he was ejected into the mote (hell) but was rescued by the Resistance (Angels). This is similar to Jesus in the desert. Angels waited upon Jesus and nursed him back to health after he was 40 days in the desert the same way the members of the Resistance nursed Neo back to health when he woke up from the Matrix. This was the start of Neo's participation in the Resistance. Jesus' ministry started after the 40 days in the desert.
Cypher is a Judas figure. Which is pretty obvious.
When Smith (the sentient program) outsmarts Neo, near the end of the movie, he knew what Neo was thinking and so was one step ahead of him waiting in the room where Neo went to make the phone call. That is when Neo is shot by Smith as he went to make the phone call in room 303. When we don't completely surrender to Christ, our best plans will not succeed in getting us out of the Matrix (material world) because the devil can read our actions and behaviour. So he is always one step ahead of us like Smith was when he was waiting for Neo in the room where Neo was going to make the phone call.
Neo dies and is raised to life again. When Neo came back to
life and realized he was the one. He was no longer thinking about what he
would do next. He was plugged into his Divine power. Neo was no longer
planning ahead. He was responding to his spiritual connectedness in the
moment. And so Smith could no longer figure out what Neo was going to do next and was
no longer able to be one step ahead of Neo. Smith was no longer able to read
what Neo would do next because Neo didn't even know, Neo was simply responding
to his spiritual conectedness which, in fact put Neo one step ahead of
If we trust God, we don't know what he is going to do next with us, but neither does the devil. In that way God can outsmart the devil in our lives. It's when we wrestle to keep control of our lives that we are subject to interference from the devil because he will always be a step ahead of us.
Life as a Christian is completely different from when we planned our lives. We
don't know what God will do next and we just trust and listen and watch God
outsmart evil in our lives. Then the devil can no longer be a step ahead of us
(i.e., waiting at the door to shoot us like Smith did to Neo when Neo was
thinking for himself).
I understand the fear of surrender but this is a good surrender, it is plugging into a source of power that outsmarts evil in my life. I think it is the Only source. Jesus is "The One".
A reader Julie adds that we may want to consider Trinity as representing the Holy Spirit for the following reasons:
Trinity exemplified the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance), especially to Neo.
In your favorite scene where she insisted that Neo needed her assistance in order to help Morpheus, Trinity symbolizes our lives that we need to walk in the Spirit. We might know what needs to be done in life, but we can't accomplish it on our own merit or strength. We need the Holy Spirit to be our helper.
Trinity talked to Neo when he died in the Matrix. Her kiss raised him. Romans 8:11 (...But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you...)
The Holy Spirit is the comforter and the guide in Christ's life, so did Trinity to Neo.
Jesus was in relationship with the Spirit, and so did Neo with Trinity.
For those who haven't seen the movie or who may have struggled to understand the plot, here is a brief outline. The plot is confusing because there are 2 worlds. The fake world (virtual world) which is the Matrix set in 1997, and the real world set in about 2199.
In the real world, machines have beaten humanity into submission. They won the war with the humans and the only trace of human civilization is a city called Zion which is an underground city in the core of the earth where it is warm. The war was over and the machines won, but the tiny human civilization that remained made up the "Resistance" which continued to try to fight the machines and ensure survival of the human race. During the war between the machines and humanity, the humans had torched the sky and blocked out the sun. They thought that this would deprive the machines of their source of energy. However the machines learned that the human body has electromagnetic power that the machine can use for power. So they captured a bunch of humans and plugged them into pods (or vats) which draw the electromagnetic energy from humans. The pods (Vats) were like 8 foot egg shells where the humans would be in a hibernate state (sort of like the pods where humans hibernated in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
The trick was to keep humans unconscious in the pods (or vats) so they would stay motionless and let the pod suck the energy from them (without killing them outright). The energy was sent to a generating station which gathered all the energy from all the thousands of humans in the pods and converted the energy for machine use. The way that the machines figured out to keep people unconscious in the pods was to hook them up to a virtual world that the humans would believe to be real. The virtual world was a big computer program called the Matrix, that all the humans in the pods were plugged into to.
This virtual reality was set in 1997, North America. All of the people in the pods that were hooked up to the Matrix, had an identity in the Matrix. They had jobs and participated fully in this virtual world. It was just like modern society. They didn't know they were "unconscious" and hooked up to these pods. They thought the Matrix was the real world. That was their identity. People died of old age in the pods, babies were born in the pods (via artificial insemination). These babies were born into unconsciousness in the pod world and were hooked up right away to the Matrix for a life of slavery, although they didn't know it, because they were unconscious - kind of like being born into original sin.
If a person woke up while they were in the pod, a machine would come along and unhook them and wash them down a sewer. What the machines didn't know was that the "Resistance" (the conscious humans fighting the machines) would pick these people out of the sewer and rescue them from drowning. They would nurse them back to health so they could join conscious humanity. The Resistance found out that the best way to fight against the machines was to try to wake humans up. They did this by "hacking" into this virtual world and going into the Matrix. These members of the "Resistance" who hacked into the Matrix would try to show people in the Matrix that they were really unconscious and that the life they were living was really a lie. It was not real.
If the Resistance found a good prospect who they thought they
could wake up, they would take them into a room and offer them the choice of
two pills. If the person took red pill they would wake up from the Matrix, if
they took the blue pill they would forget that the encounter with the
Resistance ever happened and they would go back into the Matrix to live their
The Machines realized that the Resistance had found a way to hack into the Matrix, so they made sentient programs (i.e., agent Smith) that went around in the Matrix trying to kill the members of the Resistance who had gone into the Matrix. If someone died in the Matrix they died in real life.
There was a man Morpheous who was a great computer hacker who was a leader in the Resistance, and he believed there was a human in the Matrix who was "The One" who could help win the war against the machines because he could break the code in the main machine headquarters. He found Neo, (the One) who was a brilliant hacker in the Matrix. But Neo was "unconscious", which meant he had a full life in the Matrix and he thought it was the real world. Eventually Neo takes the red pill and wakes up. The story is about Neo's participation in the Resistance and his journey to find out that he truly is "The One".
The machines want to capture Morpheous because he has the
codes to the mainframe computers of Zion. The machines know that if they can
destroy the mainframe computers of Zion they can kill conscious humanity and
squash the Resistance. Eventually they capture him but Neo comes to the
Choi to Neo (Chinese): Halleluiah you are my savior man, my own personal Jesus Christ -
Neo: how come my eyes hurt so much
Morpheous: It's because you never used them before.
Comment: Neither had I used my spiritual eyes, and when the light of Jesus hit them, I was empowered to see things through my spiritual eyes, but it also hurt like crazy cause no one understood me.
Morpheous: The Matrix is everywhere ...when you go to work,...a world
to blind you from the truth.
Mouse: the woman in the red dress -I made her-I can arrange a
rendezvous with her. (Comment: When Neo lusted after her he turned around
to see the gun of the evil agent pointing at him-a powerful message- Jesus
said "Even if you look at a woman with lust in your eye you commit adultery")
The Ship's name Nabachedaznar
Tank: me and my brother dozer, we are 100% pure old fashioned home grown human. Born free....genuine child of "Zion" (rather than born in a Pod)
Tank: If this war ended tomorrow Zion is where the party would be....the last human city...deep underground... Near the core ...you might even see it....these people are not ready to be unplugged...so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.
(comment: These people who fight to protect the Matrix are in denial) ____________________________________________________
Neo: my eyes hurt?
Morpheous: you've never used them before (In The Matrix).
(Comment: Neo is being reborn into the real world just as Christians are
reborn again (1 Peter 1:3) and see new life when they surrender themselves to
the Lord. - That's what happened to me)
Cypher: (Judas figure) Eating a steak; "ignorance is bliss"
Agent Smith: "then we have a deal"
Cypher; I don't want to remember nothing ...and I want to be rich. Someone important ...like an actor...you can do that right?
Agent Smith: whatever you want Mr. Reagan
Morph; what do you believe in?
Neo; are you kidding...my life was a lie. I don't believe in anything anymore.
(Comment: That's what happens when we begin to wake up to the Matrix of our
Morph; Faith is not a matter of reasonability....then I saw you and my world changed ...call it an epiphany...all I can do is believe that one day you will feel what I felt & know...you are the one.
(Comment: Morpheous is John the Baptist here)
Oracle; I hate giving bad news but don't worry...you don't believe any of this (Comment: how many times have people spoke the truth into our lives and we didn't believe them?)
Cypher: I'm tired...of fighting, of this ship, of being cold, of eating the same goop everyday...(Comment; the comfort of this world is always alluring. But it is not real, sometimes being a Christian is hard)
Trinity: but you can't go back
Cypher: When I wake up I'll be fat and rich and I won't remember a god dam thing...it's the American dream.....don't hate me.. I'm just the messenger ....If he is the one in the next few seconds, there has to be some kind of miracle to stop me...how can he be the one if he's dead. (In the next minute Tank gets up and shoots Cypher and kills him)
Agent Smith to Morpheous: do you know the first Matrix was perfect...none suffered. Everyone would be happy...it was a disaster. No one would accept it. Entire crops were lost...some believed we lacked the programming language ...but...human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream your primitive cerebral tried to wake from...so we redesigned it for this ... the peak of your society ...you are not a mammal...they adapt...you spread and ruin your environment like only one other creature...a virus.
Comment: Is it possible the first Matrix was Eden? When Smith says humans are a virus he is referring to original sin that resulted in rejecting the first Matrix. (Eden)
Agent Smith to Morpheous: You are like dinosaurs...they had their time...we're next... Its evolution
(Comment: at Morpheous' weakest point and when Smith's compares humans to
viruses, Neo bursts above it all with a decision to go into the Matrix and
help Morpheous. Neo goes back into the Matrix because he doesn't
believe he's "the one". To him Morpheous is more important to the
cause...Morpheous believed Neo was the one so he sacrificed himself. Neo
thinks Morpheous was wrong in doing that.)
Trinity: I'm going with you...if you don't like it you can go to hell cause you're not going anywhere else.
Morpheous: Sooner or later you'll know the difference between knowing a path and walking it...
Morph: the oracle told you what you needed to hear at
the time...not the bald truth. (Comment: Sometimes we don't understand what
God is doing in our lives)
Neo: I can feel you... (The machines)... I suppose you can feel me too. I'm not running from you anymore. (Comment: Christ did not run from evil when he went into the desert. He faced it and conquered it.)