This last weekend at the Men’s Breakfast, I shared how very often in life we have to face down challenges and fight for life. As one author put it: “the offer (from Jesus) is life…but that life is opposed.” There are seasons where things come at us repeatedly, and it feels like we’re in a fight for things like peace and being secure in who we are. I showed a clip from the Matrix where Neo begins to believe who he is and turns to fight Agent Smith instead of running from the battle. (If you haven’t seen it, seriously you need to hit the link…)
The movie itself is so ripe with spiritual themes, but the one that continues to hit me, even as this week has gone on, is about identity and facing the enemies in our life. My experience has been similar to that quote above: I get glimpses of God, glimpses of the life He offers, success in what I attempt for God and a peace that is amazing…and it feels like I’m winning. But then opposition comes. I hit a wall or begin to get beat up by an unexpected turn in life. All of a sudden, the battle seems to turn, and my identity takes a hit.
How often in our lives do we fight and overcome the circumstances in front of us, only to have whispers of discouragement and old identities thrown back at us?
But here’s the awesome part. Toward the end of the clip, Neo has gone from losing to winning and back again. As he gets thrown down on the subway tracks, Agent Smith whispers in his ear, trying to kill the last remaining bit of fight in him. The Agent whispers derision and uses his old identity (Mr. Anderson) to discourage him. But Neo doesn’t crumble. He pushes back. He chooses to believe in this new identity…and it changes everything.
This is what the Scriptures are trying to get us to believe–that we have a new identity that is secure and cannot be taken away from us. There will be Agent Smiths we face, and they will whisper lies in an effort to get us to doubt God’s faithfulness and our status. But if we belong to Jesus, we can stand in the face of adversity. We have a new name and a new heart and a new identity that is secure because our circumstances don’t define us. God does.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
So what Agent Smiths are you facing these days?