This is a guest post from William Paul Young, author of The Shack and other best selling books. In episode 10 of the BoldIdea podcast, he talked about the making of The Shack.

Matrix – Urban Dictionary – “A computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into a battery”

I confess I am one of those ‘religious folk’ who grew up reading the Scriptures more to resolve my internal guilty-conscience-regulator than to learn or hear anything. For some of us, years of absence from the legalism of ‘quiet time’ allowed our give-a-damns time to heal and awaken desires for exploration that emerged from the inside. Interactions with voices of intelligent kindness and compelling authenticity outside our own experience and traditions blew fresh breath into the smoke of our confusion and disdain, initially fanning embers of careful curiosity into Cheshire-grin acknowledgement that we had missed something ‘good’.

Turns out we are in a relationship with a God who by nature submits, and somewhere near the center of God’s relentless affection for you and me is submission to our brokenness that God encounters in our hearts, souls and minds. This is not self-less submission, but self-giving and other-centered. It is respectful of both the wonder of this high-order creation that is a human being, and of their capacity for self-deception and lie-enshrouded power to devastate.

Ask any parent who has even a modicum of health about their love for their child and you will be told that this love is unconditional, dependent on and originating in the one loving. However, relationship, the mystery of how this love is expressed, is not unconditional, nor would we ever want it to be. It is one thing that you love me, another altogether that you see me. When a person dies, while it may not affect your love for them, I guarantee it will affect your relationship with them. By its very nature a real relationship creates a space of interaction in which knowing the ‘other’ and their choices, character and circumstance actually matters. It is a desperately beautiful sorrow that relationship means the other can say ‘no’ or believe a lie or be involved in accidents or struggle with illness or addiction, or kiss you, or refuse to talk, or hide secrets, or leave you a note or express kindness or forgive or put up and take down walls.

But we human beings generally are a fearful lot, embedding our drive for certainty in expressions of power rather than in the risk of trust and relationship. We create (dream up) institutional systems and organizations of hierarchical power be they religious, social, ideological, political, educational, financial etc, in order to extend our desperate need to control. Sadly, as these evolve, they often use human beings as batteries. We created the Matrix and without the empowering presence of human beings, any Matrix has less life than a rock. Even with the best of intentions, the Matrix is still the Matrix and we have populated the entire planet with them.

But you are more essential and significant than any Matrix construct. To believe otherwise is to grossly underestimate the grandeur of your humanity.