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Busting out of the Matrix

• Greg Boyd

Greg has preached numerous times about the cunning power of “the matrix” (i.e. the pattern of this world that blinds humanity to the truth of the Gospel). This morning he continued that theme by preaching about a driving aspect of the matrix, namely, the gnawing feeling of discontent that we believe we can meet through the acquisition of more things.

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Greg has preached numerous times about the cunning power of “the matrix” (i.e. the pattern of this world that blinds humanity to the truth of the Gospel). This morning he continued that theme by preaching about a driving aspect of the matrix, namely, the gnawing feeling of discontent that we believe we can meet through the acquisition of more things. Greg displayed the advertisements from the Sunday newspaper as evidence of our culture’s bent toward a consumeristic mentality. Pages upon pages were devoted to the self-proclaimed ability of a particular product or fashion to achieve happiness and contentedness. This feeding on the tyranny of comparison means that we are never satisfied. We can easily believe that “if only” we acquire the desired product then we will be happy. However, the reality is that the things of this world always fail to deliver on their promise. There will always be someone who has a little more status, a little more money, and a few more possessions than we have. Greg called us this morning to “wake up” from this insidious matrix. Life is not found in such things. Instead, Jesus Christ overcomes and destroys the matrix. Through our participation in his unconditional love, we can experience true joy and abundant life. Jesus’ words in John 8:32 ring true, “and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

However, just as riches do not secure life, so also poverty does not achieve life. There is nothing inherently virtuous in being poor. Discontentedness can mark a person regardless of whether they are rich or poor. The temptation exists to couch feelings of envy toward the rich in “justice language.” That is to say, a comment such as, “How can they justify having that expensive car when children are going hungry in our city?” can actually mean, “I wish I had the money they have.” The reality is that there is always someone richer and poorer than we are. Whatever the case, statistics illustrate that by global standards the vast majority of Americans are incredibly rich. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6 that riches are not inherently evil, but instead gives direction for how Christians are to use them and live with them.

1 Timothy 6:17 instructs Christians not to be arrogant about their wealth. We must realize that all our wealth is God’s wealth. Regardless of how much we might believe we have a right to our riches because of hard work, Greg reminded us that all over the world people work hard and yet have very little wealth to show for it. We cannot think for a moment that we are better than others because of wealth.

Additionally, this verse teaches Christians to be careful with riches. We should not hope in them or love them because the things of this world are temporal. We must constantly keep on our guard since the love of riches is the root of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus even goes as far as to personify wealth as seeking to wield its controlling power over us (Luke 16:13). Greg likened the controlling power of wealth to the gravitational pull of the planets. The larger the planet the greater is gravity’s pull (e.g. Jupiter has 10,000x the pull of Mercury). This does not mean Mercury is better than Jupiter. However, it does mean that it will take a much greater effort to stand upright on Jupiter than Mercury. So also, the greater the riches the more difficult it will be to live uprightly for God. The situation calls for continual attention, for the human tendency is to hoard the more we acquire. 1 Timothy 6:7 states that we can take nothing from this world when we die. Thus, we need to use our earthly riches to invest in the only thing that will last forever, love (1 Corinthians 13).

1 Timothy 6:18-19 and 2 Corinthians 9:8 instruct believers to use riches wisely. By carefully managing our finances we can participate in every good work and store up a good foundation for the future. What loving thing can we do to advance the Kingdom? How can we exchange our earthly currency into eternal, Kingdom currency?

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17-19

    6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
    17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

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