4 May 2003

That Which No Longer Is

Submitted by theshovel
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"Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth," the boy responded to Neo's questioning gaze at the twisting utensil.
"What truth?" asks Neo.
"There is no spoon," replies the boy.
"There is no spoon?" Neo repeats in question form, even more mystified than before.
"Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself," the boy concludes.

- from the movie, "The Matrix"

There is no spoon? I am well aware this memorable quote has been used to insist that nothing can be known for certain, and that truth itself is nothing more than perception. Ironically, the very scene from which this excerpt has been lifted paints a very different concept as the only reality brought into question was the falsely projected Matrix that enslaved a former prisoner's former world. It was a world that had to be re-computed every step of the way in accordance to Neo's (the new man) newfound freedom. For the world he once imagined was that which no longer is.

[For the record, beyond this point I don't attribute anything I've written to the writers' intentions or real meaning of the movie, okay?]

For all of you who were baptized (immersed) into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

The world as imagined by its former prisoners is that which no longer is, and that rigid utensil we once held in order to slurp the sustenance of this world has bent and twisted inexplicably before us. And why does it confuse us? Because we too often perceive the world's spoon as truly having substance. But the truth remains that there is no spoon. For the only true sustenance for this world is the one who himself is real food and drink, and we have been joined together in him to God, from whom all things come.

Unfortunately, we continue to recognize the distinctions of this world, distinctions that tap into the former identities established by this world. As nothing really changes in the world the same distinctions mentioned by Paul in Galatians still affect us even now, though we often think of our society as having evolved beyond such primitive conflicts, and I'd like to comment on one of them.

There is neither Jew nor Greek,

This distinction touches the officiality of one's right to God, for the good news preached to both Jew and Greek (one who is NOT a Jew) revolved around the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the only true God. In truth, the gospel broke down the barrier. For not only had God's own people, according to the flesh, rejected Him, but those unconnected with Israel never sought Him either. Instead, God brought a whole new reality into being: the new creation, made up of both Jew and Greek but defined by neither because the identity of all is found only in Christ!

The same thing we bogusly hold to today is the distinction between insider and outsider. No doubt we still see it as part of the contention between the religion of the Jews and the rest of the world, but we also see it in the many groups that claim to have the only real connection to God. And if this was not enough we have been inundated with the mindset from the moment we entered this world through every imaginable possible version of the haves vs. the have-nots. Whether at school, church, work, sporting events, at home or even hanging out with a group of friends or enemies, you'll see it panning out in a multitude of ways.

Now, it would be a mistake to attribute a group's distinctions only to those obviously designated as insiders, for the ones who keep themselves on the fringes also help to define or redefine the group by being outside it. I've even witnessed the establishment of groups based heavily on the jockeying for the best place outside the crowd. After all, haven't you ever found yourself in the center of a group because the group had shifted itself around you? One moment you're the non-conformist, the next, you're part of the establishment!

But in Christ there is neither insider nor outsider, there is neither center nor fringe, there is neither status-quo nor non-conformist! There is only the new creation. Any division forced into this reality - whether from one seeking to position himself as either insider, outsider, or even a delicate balance between the two - is that which no longer is.


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These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: Sep-06-03 by Anonymous

Dear Jim,

Your latest points through your shovel letter have hit home with me. In Christ, we are one....we are free to be. It appears increasingly clear to me that any conflicts that arise come from "requirements" our worldly thinking try to force upon our behaviours. The more I rest in His grace, the more I see this truth. Every requirement has been met in Christ, and when we attempt to do what only he has done, it only polarizes people. It's so ironic. The very thing a requirement will do is divide, not unite. Interesting.

Thanks for your letters. Inspiring!

Posted: Sep-06-03 by Vinnie

Great Shoveletter, Jim!

Yep, there is no spoon.

I just re-rented the Matrix a few weeks ago, (because I was too dumb to catch any spiritual implications when I watched it a few years ago). This time, I overcame my lack of enthusiasm for Keanu and listened for what spiritual parallels I could draw from it, and thought it was very cool!

I liked the part after Neo is 'born again" and has "seen" outside the Matrix for the first time in his life, and he asked Morpheus "Why do my eyes hurt?". Morpheus replies "Because you've never used them before."

It reminded me of the schizophrenic stage that I went through when I was beginning to be able to see that He was my life, and my thoughts were beginning to be liberated from the legalistic thinking of the world. I remember first writing you during those tumultuous times and wondering why I felt so schizophrenic between law and grace (wondering why my eyes were hurting). The "liberation of my mind" seemed a little painful to me at the time as I was beginning to become aware that I was free, but my fear was insisting on keeping my thoughts bound. (probably the same shock that Peter felt in discovering that God wasn't a Jew in his vision of the sheet and the animals lowered down from heaven)

But anyway, I'm a Matrix fan now, and enjoyed the parallels that one could make from it., and greatly enjoyed those that you make in the shoveletter. Keep em coming, brother!


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Becki


I really liked this:

"In Christ there is neither insider nor outsider, there is neither center nor fringe, there is neither status-quo nor non-conformist! There is only the new creation."


Love to you and your adorable wife.

Posted: Sep-06-03 by Paul

Haha! Greatness indeed! Thanks for not rushing.

Posted: Sep-06-03 by Richard

From the movie The Matrix,
It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth~what truth? That you are a slave Neo, like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell, taste or touch; a prison for your mind.

This is from a friend of mine:
Deception is the first and greatest mark of a life of futility. This is so because deception is the one all-encompassing ingredient needed to keep people trapped in lives that go nowhere. The working of deception is the goal of God's primary enemy - Satan. Deception is a worldwide phenomenon because it is a human phenomenon. We should expect this would be so because the entire world is under the influence and control of the evil one: "We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." (1 John 5:19). We should also expect Satan's first and primary tool for injury in this world to be the lie and the practice of deception. After all, this is how Satan got control of the world in the first place: "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"" (Genesis 3:1).

We should expect considerable resistance from the evil one toward our efforts to allow the Father to bring us out of the futile life of deception we were born into in the natural. Make no mistake about this point - we were all born (in the natural) into a spiritually generated dream world. I sense this will be a repeated theme through this entire writing. Humanity is trapped in a dead-end existence leading to personal and corporate failure and ultimately to self-destruction. Yet, we have no legitimate or necessary need to feel either trapped or hopeless. The trap of a hopeless life is a self-imposed trap.

The reason we may have hope even in a fallen world is because there is a loving God who is in ultimate control over all of creation. This loving God desires to be our loving Father and to release us from the bondage of the life of futility. The means of this release is found in the verse just before the one quoted above from 1 John: "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him." (1 John 5:18). The apostle John does a marvellous job of giving us the entire picture of reality in two short verses. If we are born of God (reborn or born again) then we are safe, even though we still live in a world under the control of the evil one.

Jim, I enjoyed this new shoveletter very much. The quote from The Matrix was great, and how you tied it in with what you had to share. Thanks.

I see this being played out in real life and relationships here at the Shack. The many different illusions that we all find ourselves ensnared to from time to time. There is nothing but futility for us so long as we look at things (ourselves~each other) from this spiritually generated dream world.

I'm reminded of Jesus saying, If you continue in this relationship I've called you to, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. I see this truth at times causing untold anxiety and pain. Why? Because of all and any attachments (that we cling to) to stuff that has nothing to do with the reality of Him being our One and only Life!!

I remember a bro saying once that idols that are made from metal are easier to destroy than those that are mental.

I see those idols being removed and replaced by a hands on coming to see and know in an ever increasing way, of Him~~the Truth! :) No longer will it be an issue of being in a 'church' vs. being outside of the 'church', but 'being in Him'.

Anyway, just a few thoughts bro.

Love, Rich-man

Posted: Sep-06-03 by Bea



Posted: Sep-06-03 by Mikey

Good stuff Jimmy

Keep it up they might just toss you out of the church!

Thanks for the great word buddy!


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Perry

"There is neither Jew nor Greek,"

All labels have been done away with in the reality of the finished (*)atonement of Jesus Christ. We are all one! Wow, it makes me want to dance and turn Penecostal for a minute. He-he!


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Joyce

Really good Shoveletter. Interestingly one of the phrases in the verses used in it for some reason stuck out to me. It was: "from now on"... "From now on", see others not as it appears to the senses, but as the reality of the New Creation.

Was wondering too about what rigid utensils we use that are used in a manner "of this world" rather than according to the Life of Christ. Could it even be the use of a "book" that is used in that way..... of this world... rigid, etc., that is not of Christ?

Yes, the distinctions that we are taught and that have been ingrained to condition us that we are the best (favorite) ones, with the most insights, the true doctrine, the essential traditions and sacrements, etc. etc.. (Too bad about the other people. We aren't even sure if they're saved.)

Posted: Jan-25-04 by Christopher J. Whyte

What I like about the "No Spoon" statement is that, we as people, are conditioned to see a certain way. The reality of it all, if I can use such a word, is that we limited by our experiences, and what we have been taught, just to scratch the surface.

The revelation to me is that just because I see it a certain way does not make it so. My perception and what the real truth is do not necessary coincide, and this has helped me to open my mind to the possibilities. If I can achieve this, than maybe I am teachable, and not bound by my limited perspective due my "human condition"!!!

Posted: Feb-28-06 by guest

thanks jim a nice reread years later








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there is no advice in this world – even if it comes from a Bible verse or a preacher’s sermon – that can produce God’s work within you. Oh, it might make you appear more spiritually productive, but the working of God doesn’t come from the practical side of the grave … but from the living side that has risen past it. When I tell you that Christ is your life, I’m telling you about the one and only present-tense reality that causes you to live as one who is truly alive in this world. source