The Truman Show: Freedom Outside the Cage

TrumanshowRecently I watched the Truman show on Film 4 and I was struck by how much it was telling me about their view of the Creator.

The God role of Christof (Christ?!) the creator has a booming voice from the sky and he has Truman in a giant dome of ignorance while he watches and even controls him. On top of that the film makes us ask the question: “what is true reality and what is true freedom”? And can we get any of that with God or without Him?

As Christof says, “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.”

Those growing up in religion or those believing in God simply accept the reality they are presented and they never question it. We may feel that God is just like Christof who keeps Truman in a cage through lies and watches his every move like Big Brother. And this cage is the safe place, outside the cage is the sickness;

“I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place.”

At the end of the film, the Creator speaks to Truman from the Moon. He is cold and distant and Truman decides he has had enough and wants to go on an adventure outside of the Truman bubble. He seeks truth and reality away from his creator.

And the Creator loses his star and the whole of the Truman show collapses. Once the truth is discovered there is now freedom and no need to live in a cage and no need for the Creator. But the question is still there:

The_Truman_Show2Will Truman find true freedom and life outside the Truman show?

It is interesting that they portray this view of God. And I think many people can resonate with Truman. They see God as an old man in the sky. With a white flowing beard and wearing a glowing robe. He has a booming yet distant voice. He hides in the sky, far away and shouts commands to his creation.

And often Christians see God like this, a cold and distant being hiding in the clouds.

It’s odd because not even in the Old Testament is God like this. Straight away the Lord in Genesis 3 is walking in the garden. He eats and talks with Abraham (Genesis 18) he speaks to Hagar (Genesis 21), he speaks to Moses face to face (Exodus 33) etc..

Ed Harris The Truman ShowWhat’s more, there is no solitary being alone in the clouds, but there is a unity of three. Father, Son and Spirit who dance together and who interact with their creation in a personal way right from the start.

Most importantly, the Son becomes flesh and walks among us. He walks around in the world, the “sick place” as Christof calls it, and he touches, talks to, eats with, heals, forgives and loves the sick people. The Trinity is no distant God.

The Sent One walks in and among the sickness of the world and brings hope, healing and salvation.

We are right to reject Christof as a portrayal of the Christian God. If you disliked him and the world he created, if you yearn for finding truth outside the cage, then I agree with you.

But the cage isn’t the world of the Trinity, or the life in the Son. The cage is always outside of Christ, a place of darkness and sin. Christ beckons us to find Truth and reality in Him, not outside of Him. He allures us to find life and love in him, not anywhere else. And he doesn’t call us from a distant far off cloud, he calls us by walking with us in our darkness and shame and he carries us and shines a light in the darkness.

There is no life in the creator Christof, there is only a cage that this one person creator can offer Truman. A cage of rules and camera’s and lies and control. That is not a place we want to be and thankfully our God offers ever-lasting life in the Son and in Him is freedom.

1998_the_truman_showSo will Truman find true freedom and life outside the Truman show?

A resounding yes to this question, but only if he turns to Christ. If he turns to the world and the idols of the world then he will find himself in another cage with an idol that is perhaps more destroying then the first.

And so if you find you are feeling a bit like Truman, like you are in a cage and your view of God is like that of Christof. Then run to Christ. Don’t run to the world, it wont offer you what you heart truly needs.

You need to run to Christ and find freedom outside the cage.

Day 1: In the beginning

trinity-rublev1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1v1.

This begs us to ask the question: What kind of God is this?

A single person Omni-God? Does it have a hammer like Thor? Will it enslave people? Maybe there are many gods? Perhaps this is the god of the pencil?

Who is this God, that creates and breathes life into the things he creates?

This God is the Triune God. A God of 3 persons, Father, Son and Spirit together united in love. A Tri-Unity. A Community. A dance of love.

We catch glimpses of this when Jesus says in John 17:24 to his Father in Heaven that “you loved me before the foundation of the world.” Before the beginning of the foundation of the world the Father was loving the Son through the Holy Spirit. A community of love.

In the beginning was a community of love. God is love (1John 4:16).

This perfect love between three persons begins to spill over. It spills over and the Father begins to create the heavens and the earth through and by his Son Jesus – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Col 1:16).

The trinity creates shells of things and then fills them with life: He gave day and night two great lights to fill them, he gave water and sky the creatures to fill them and he gave the earth creatures to fill them. He created man and he breathed life into him. He created Adam and gave Eve to complete him. Creation became alive through the living God.

The community of love was poured out onto creation and the creation was reflecting that back. Life and beauty was given and there was rest.

Christmas is about the Life giving Trinity.

*Andrei Rublev’s – The Trinity

A Direct line to God

chord In the toilets at Marjon University they have an emergency red cord and most likely that’s been pulled enough times for someone to put a note on it saying: “Emergency Assistance Cord“. I.E dont pull it unless it is an emergency.

But someone has written above it “A direct like to God“. It made me smile. They saw this red cord and for a laugh wrote this.

Sometimes prayer feels a bit like an emergency line to God.

It is like divine panic button. Call God only in an emergency.

It can feel like that in the christian life. Days and days go by and all is hunky dory, the sun is shining and life seems beautiful. There feels no need for God. No need to speak to him or include him. I am fine thank you – I don’t need you right now.

This isn’t an emergency so I wont pull the red cord.

Not until I get to the point where I suddenly have to find accommodation for my relay worker or my bus is late and therefore I am late for an important meeting or a crises pops up and I think: I need to pray! This is an emergency.

When I read that sign, I laughed. But I also thought; this is how I often see God. My personal 999 operator. Where he will answer with: “what is your emergency?“. From this its easy to think that God only wants to listen to the big, important stuff and if I told him about my worries or even my joys he will respond with “Why are you wasting my time? This isn’t an emergency“.

My view of God in this is twisted. Because God isn’t like this. Our trinitarian God isn’t like this.

I do have a direct line to God. But not just for emergencies. I have one through Jesus Christ by the Spirit:

Hebrews 7v25 – Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

I love this. I love that Jesus is ALWAYS interceding for us. I love that Jesus prays for us as we see in John 17. I love that the spirit cries Abba Father on our behalf. Jesus brings us to the Father, he intercedes for us. Without him we could never of gone to the father, we would have been like the Israelites not being able to go near the mountain because we would die.

We are carried on Christ’s heart to the Father. A Father who loves us. This direct line that we have to God is a line that is carried by Jesus to the Father through the Spirit. And he wants to hear our hearts and our worries. Not just big emergency stuff, although that too. But also everyday stuff. Worries, anxieties, jobs next year, healing for my friend, good results, getting to work safely, good relationships at work, good conversations and whatever else faces us in the day.

Sometimes people may think we shouldnt be so quick to bring our problems to God. We shouldn’t be so quick to ask for healings or an ease to our suffering or help in our day. That we shouldn’t bring things that may seem trivial. That we should sweat it out a bit. But I am not up for that.

If we have a Father in heaven who wants to hear us. A Son who ALWAYS interceded for us carrying us to the Father on his heart and a Spirit that helps us and cries Abba Father to the Father. Then I want in on that. It makes me want to pray about everything. I want to thank God for everything. If God is Tri-unity of love and invites me in on that – then I want in.

Why? Because I am deluding myself in thinking that I can manage on my own or do perfectly well without God. I am wrong in thinking that God is only interested in certain prayers. It is all lies. Sometimes lies of the enemy. Sometimes lies I buy into because I forget the Gospel.

Some people may say – you can’t just ask God for things all the time.

And I wonder – why not? I don’t mean to demand things from God or treat him like a jackpot machine. But why not come to him like a child comes to the Father and ask for help? Or bring my worries? And also thank him for being great? Why can’t I do that all the time? Isn’t that what a loving Father wants? Isn’t that what Jesus is doing already on my behalf?

My heart needs to remember this. And this is a preach to myself more than anything else.

But I do have a direct line to God. But not a red emergency cord. I have a person who carries me on their heart all the time and another person who cries out Abba Father and a Father who hears this and delights in this and never tires from this.

I really want in on that!

Collection of Webs (26)

Here are some great blog posts on the internet at the moment:

Death to January – Blog post by Emma Scrivener: “A time of fresh starts, resolutions and beginnings.  But how do you make them, when you’re in the same body, with the same mind, the same relationships, the same job (or lack of), and same struggles? This month it’s harder to trot out the same excuses.”

Is the bible a book about God? – Written by Dan Hames: The Bible is specifically a book about the Son of God. So long as we say that the Bible is a book about ‘God’ in the abstract, and not fighting hard for the centrality of Christ to the Bible, we’re depriving him of his rightful place, and ourselves of vital spiritual sustenance.

Welcome to the Crazy Church Family – by Bryony Young: “I have come to the conclusion that my Church is simply a glorious ruin. Glorious because we aim to glorify God and a ruin because we are still a work in progress.”

Boots – by Tanya Marlow: “Most days I am actually okay about being ill; I kind of accept it and get on with life. It doesn’t feature much in my thinking. Today is not one of those days.”

Three is the Loveliest number – Article by Mike Reeves: “For the health of the church and our faith, we must be proud of who our God is. And since the Trinity is no mere theological icing resting atop our God—since the living God is Trinity—we must be resolutely and thoroughly Trinitarian in all our ways and thoughts.”

Can we know God?

solitudeI read a sad article today. An article written here.

A question is behind this: Can we know God? The writer of the article says no, he says “The more you claim to know God and attempt to delineate his nature the less likely you are to have hit the bull’s eye.”

He goes on to say: “Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God’s nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing.”

It saddens me because if this were true, if God is indeed unknowable then all of us are in trouble. An unknowable God does not speak into or indeed to his creation (Genesis v3) or walks among them (Genesis 3v8) or dies for them at the cross (Mark 15v33-39). An unknowable God doesn’t adopt us as sons to the Father (Galatians 4v1-7) or betroths us to the Son (Hosea 2v19-20). He doesn’t sing over us (Zephaniah 3:17) or warms our heart with his tender mercy (Luke1v78). Instead we are left outside, cold and very alone.

We can do as David Bryant advises: Is anything left or does this destroy the very fabric of spirituality? What remains is a Quakerlike silence during which we can respond to the numinous, develop our perceptions, hone our morality and enhance our wonder at the staggering complexity of the universe.

It sounds modern, inclusive and quite pleasant. Keep God unknown and then I don’t have to seek him, I can instead find my own path. But this silence will eventually erode you and keep you lost forever. This silence feels very lonely and I don’t think the universe is shouting any answers back.

Instead there is better news than this: come and meet the God that is revealed to us. Come and meet Jesus who reveals the Father to us. For he is:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
(Colossians 1:15 ESV)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

Can we know God? Yes through Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals to us who the Father is:

No-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.(Matthew 11v27).

What a glorious verse! Come and know the Father because the Son has revealed him to us! Come to Jesus and you will know God. My friends, God is not unknown – the Trinitarian God has been revealed and has pierced this world with his everlasting light so that you no longer have to sit in darkness. Faith is not saying that God is unknown, Faith is receiving what Christ has done for you and believing that he is truly God and truly reveals the Father to us.

Bryant says: “If we envisage God as a person clothed with epithets such as powerful, loving, just, fear-inspiring and omnipotent we are creating a manmade image.”

And yet God chooses to come to us as a baby, which is what the Christmas story is all about. And through being fully human and fully God he shows us who the Father is and what he is like. And he is powerful, loving and just. Believe me you wouldn’t want a different God. The Trinitarian God that is revealed to us through Jesus Christ which we can read in scripture and it is good news and better news than an unknown God.

Calvin says: “For God would have remained hidden afar off if Christ’s splendour had not beamed upon us.”

But if God is unknown to you. Then come to Jesus. You could sit in silence and search for the hero inside yourself or cry out to the vacuum universe for answers of “who am I?” Or instead you can come to Jesus.

Come to him who holds the universe in the palm of his hand, who says to you that he will carry your burden, who will be a light in your darkness and who will give you his identity and the Father will proclaim over you “I am well pleased”. My prayer is that David Bryant and all who may agree with his article will come to Jesus, come and know him and drink deep out of his living water because then they will know God and God will no longer be unknown to them but revealed and found so beautiful.

The Inner Ring

When I was at school there was always the “cool” people who hunted in packs. They would listen to the latest music, have the latest fashion and didn’t seem to do any work. But nonetheless we all knew that they were a cool group, I don’t know how we knew, but us the outsiders knew that we would never be in that cool gang so long as we had skirts below the knees and wanted to get good grades. These kind of groups are not just in school but also in society – in the work place, in families, communities and the church. There are groups of people who make what CS Lewis calls an “inner ring”, a group of people who Lewis describes as:

“It has no fixed name. The only certain rule is that the
insiders and outsiders call it by different names. From inside it may be
designated, in simple cases, by mere enumeration: it may be called
“You and Tony and me.” When it is very secure and comparatively
stable in membership it calls itself “we.” When it has to be suddenly
expanded to meet a particular emergency it calls itself “All the sensible
people at this place.”

Do you know the kind of groups he means? You find them everywhere, probably most commonly called cliques now. CS Lewis rightly says that this is unavoidable, its part of human nature to connect with like-minded people and make friendships with them sharing in interests and visions. And it isn’t wrong to have them either in order for organisations and communities and churches to function, there needs to be a group that’s in the know and makes decisions.

But Lewis doesn’t focus on those groups in his inner ring essay, he instead focuses on the outsiders and their desire to be in the inner ring. He says:

I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.

I think this is true and a part of it is wanting to feel valued and wanted. We want to be a part of a group of people who value us and accepts us – we long for that community and when we find ourselves outside of that inner ring we feel rejected. So we strive even harder to be in that group. Because “It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.” This is certainly not exempt from the church, where there are many inner rings (we pretend there aren’t, but there are) and people from the outside struggle to find a place and struggle to feel a part of the group. Even when they pierce the first part of the onion they find there are more inner rings to pierce through!

But Lewis asks an important question for those wanting to be a part of the inner ring:

“Let Inner Rings be an unavoidable and even an innocent feature of life, though certainly not a beautiful one: but what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?”

How have you felt being on the outside? How much are you striving to be on the inside? And once inside how much do you relish the idea of being “in” and others being “out”…

He says this striving would result in two outcomes:

1. HE warns us that if we spend our time striving to be in this inner ring, then we may find we become scoundrels –” Of all the passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skilful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.” Our drive and determination to be accepted at all costs will find ourselves clouded and not quite ourselves at all. It will cause us to reject others, to think more highly of ourselves and to lose friendships.

2. He then warns that the novelty will wear off – “Once the first novelty is worn off the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humor or learning or wit or any of the things that can be really enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last.” If you just want to be “in” but have no care for the people, they will soon bore you and you will be looking elsewhere for another ring to break through. The grass isn’t greener on the other side.

What to do then? If you are feeling rejected and outside?

Lewis says: “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.” To do that is more simple and natural then we can imagine:

“If in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the center of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.”

I think what Lewis is saying is a breath of fresh air! We don’t need to strive to be a part of an inner ring that we see, but actually through natural friendships we may find ourselves in a ring of our own that is based around friendship which will make you far happier then striving to be in a ring for the sake of being “in”…

Perhaps I would also include that knowing Jesus means you’re in the most intimate and outward looking ring ever – that of the Trinity. You are very much included to enjoy the love of the Father just as the Son loves the Father through the Spirit!

This model of the Trinity should effect our inner rings where they are continually outward looking and wanting to include all people. You may be striving to be a part of an inner ring that you think will give you more status, meaning or control – but it wont make you happy. Instead your natural friendships will cause an inner ring and if it was to reflect the Trinity then it should be warm, friendly and ready to include all people. Include the outsiders, those on the edge of society, church and at work. I guarantee that when you look around on Sunday morning at church there are more people on the outside of the ring then you think and perhaps its an opportunity to include them into your friendship group, home, life and inner ring.

“To a young person, just entering on adult life, the world seems full of Insides,” full of delightful intimacies and confidentiality, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction.”

Collection of Webs (16)

A new blog has hit my radar: Dave and Mary Mackie blog about life and being parents. Such a refreshing read.

The Gospel of Isaiah by Dave Cruver. Really enjoying his blog. But check out this post:

Generally speaking, every act of God consists of all three members of the Trinity. Each member participates- different roles in the same action. An obvious statement, yes; but a statement that must be presented again. The Triune God acts in such a way that the action is from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Over here, Glen Scrivener writing about what Christians should placard over the world. What do you think?

Anita talks about Emotions and Scripture, here are some interesting insights!

Want to start reading the bible and have a plan to stick to? Here is a good one starting tomorrow (Monday)