To be upfront: I love movies. There’s something about being transported into a great story that draws me in, gets my creative juices flowing and causes me to ponder. Inception was one of those films that captivated me from start to finish. As a great film should, Inception’s plot and characters addressed some great human themes including tragedy, deception, hope. Without spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it, there’s an underlying concept in the film that is absolutely intriguing to me: is reality and truth that is external to me more important than what’s internal to me in my own mind? Or to ask it a different way, if I believe something to be real, does it matter if it isn’t?
In Inception, the main characters are able to break into someone’s mind through a dream state. The film’s main character Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a professional thief who profits through a dream espionage– stealing secrets by interacting with his targets through their dreams. [Spoiler alert] As the story unfolds, Cobb accepts a job to go beyond theft, and to actually introduce a thought into his victims mind– a act of inception. His team will attempt to shape an intricate dream experience that will plant the seed of an idea in their victims mind that will cause him to take a desired outcome. As they plan for this task, the viewer learns that Cobb’s reality has been complicated by his constant dream-state living, and he struggles to differentiate between the real world and the world of his dreams.
What Cobb and the others experience in their dream state feels every bit as real in their mind. As far as their mind is concerned these experiences are real. So what matters more: what one feels is real, or what is real? Some might say there’s really no difference– that experience determines reality. My Christian worldview differs from this and I understand that God is real and outside of all that I see for He created it all. I can believe any number of things, but my belief or understanding or experience do not determine what’s real, even if it feels real to me.
In the scriptures, we are clued into this interaction between truth or reality and our own minds. There’s a Biblical understanding that our minds are darkened and unable to see the world and it’s Creator as they really are (see Romans 1:18-23). To be sure, there are some great realities and truths that are hidden to man because our minds are darkened to them because of our sinfulness. But God speaks to us through creation, and through the scriptures, and he revealed so much through the incarnation of Jesus the Messiah.
For Christians, those who place their faith in the Jesus the Messiah, God begins to renew the mind. Something that many Christians do not understand, though, is that we must continue this renewing work of the mind if we are to find the fulness of life that comes (in part) from a mind that is shaped by the truths of God. I leave you with a few such passages [the italics are mine].
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:3-10 ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, (Philippians 1:9-10 ESV)