The Illusions of Life
By Warren Mueller –
While watching the science fiction movie The Matrix, I was struck by the similarity of our lives to this movie. The main character, Neal, discovers that his life is an illusion created by a super computer. Neal’s mind wakes up and he sees himself and other humans being controlled by machines. It is a shocking shift in perspective regarding who he is and what the world is really like outside of the illusion created by the computer.The Bible says that life is temporary and is like a mist that quickly disappears (James 4:14). Our perspective of what life is like is largely limited to our experiences. When I was a young child, I went through a phase in my development where I viewed my parents as powerful and wise beings upon whom I could depend to provide me with my needs. This illusion changed as I aged and realized that my parents had flaws, failings and became feeble with age. As a teenager I suffered from what I call the Superman illusion which led me to be a daredevil. Perhaps it was a combination of surging hormones and the development of my body that caused me to think that I was invincible. The deaths of some friends due to reckless driving and cancer in high school and early adulthood showed me how fragile life is.
Next, there was the illusion that the quality of life depends on wealth and pleasure. Therefore, I focused my life on accumulating things such as cars and houses and experiences such as vacations. While I found satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in these pursuits, they did not produce contentment. There was always something bigger and better than what I had which resulted in feeling restless and frustrated. This led me to the illusion that my family would provide meaning and purpose for my life. I love my family very much. However, I soon realized that there were various large and small, spoken and unspoken problems with each of my family members. Family gatherings never quite lived up to the ideal vision I had in mind due to these tensions and behaviors. Family ties were ended by death, damaged by divorce or weakened by distance. This shattered the illusion that life was about my family.
Finally, there is the illusion that death is not something that needs to be faced on a daily basis. There is a routine to life that makes it seem much more secure and predictable than it really is. There is a tendency not to want to think about death and instead fill our minds and time with activities. This is a type of denial of what we know to be inevitable. We do not know how to deal with what happens after death and so focus on living in the present. We plan for the future but we do not know if we will live long enough to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Thus, our lives tend to be preoccupied with things and pleasures that are temporary.
In order to correct this condition, we must be born again and be transformed by the renewing of our minds by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2). This is accomplished by believing in Jesus as personal Savior and confessing him as Lord (Romans 10:9-10). This is the only way to wake up from the illusions of this life and see life from the perspective of eternity. Once this happens, you will be in the world but not of it. Your affection and loyalty will be fixed on Jesus and not this world. You will be like Neal who has been forever changed by the real view of life.