One of my favourite films is ‘Galaxy Quest’, a comedy which parodies sci-fi films (and the television series ‘Star Trek’ in particular) about a troupe of actors who end up inadvertently defending a group of real aliens against an alien warlord. One of my favourite characters in the film is Brandon (played by Justin Long), a nerdy fan whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the TV series is crucial to the plot.

He spends the entire film harassing the actors about their series, refusing to believe that it is fictional until Jason Nesmith, who plays Commander Taggart in the series, is finally brutally honest, revealing that it is not true, and Brandon is crushed. Later on, however, Jason needs Brandon to help him land the spaceship and he interrupts Brandon’s sad admission that he understands it’s all fictional by saying ‘It’s all true!’ Brandon is ecstatic (‘I knew it!’) and his actions help to bring the spaceship down and see the aliens killed.

Many of us are rather like Brandon. We desperately want the gospel to be true. We like the idea of an omnipotent, all-loving God and a story which ends happily ever after, but in our heart of hearts as we grow up, we tend to feel that we need to grow out of such childish ways. We leave behind our belief in Father Christmas and the tooth fairy; we let go of Peter Pan and other story characters. We see the sin and strife in the world and we think that God is just another fable to make us feel better about ourselves. We think that all we see is the ultimate reality.

The fact is, however, that what we see with our eyes and touch with our hands is not the whole story. The gospel explains why the world is as it is (because of man’s rebellion against God and the huge problem caused by sin) and reminds us that there really can be a happy ending because God is the ultimate reality. Far from being a placebo or a sweet little fairy story to keep the children content, He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the God of Angel Armies. We are to ‘fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Cor 4:18 TNIV)

‘The Matrix’ trilogy depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. In some ways, the films touch on important themes because we tend to view this life as all there is and talk of heaven as ‘pie-in-the-sky’, a fantasy world that bears no resemblance to reality. Christians are often accused of being unrealistic, living in an imaginary world of fantasy. Over the past thirty years, however, I have come to see that it is God who is the ultimate reality and that the world I currently inhabit is, whilst not a fantasy, definitely not all there is to life.

Contrary to what we are bombarded with from infancy, it is the world which is ‘held captive by dreams that will never be fulfilled in this life / Chasing the darkness and everything that surrounds/ All the emptiness buried inside’ (‘Come Alive’, Jeremy Camp) and God who has done something about that: ‘His love has conquered death’s call.’

Let’s be secure in God as the ultimate reality and have a light hold on everything the world has to offer as a result.

‘Come Alive’, Jeremy Camp