In the Hollywood film Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a writer with a book contract that experiences writers block. He depressingly looks and smells like a drug addict. Suffering and stressing out from a lack of inspiration in his dumpy New York apartment his deadlines are getting increasingly closer.
His girlfriend breaks up with him because of his lack of progress and financial dependence.
Then he bumps into an estranged extended family member who offers to make all his troubles go away. He gives him a pill. A pill that allows him to access 100% of his brains capacity. He’s able to learn faster and recall memories from his distant past that he didn’t know existed.
He uses this ability to talk his way out of paying rent, clean up himself, organize his apartment, and finish a whole chapter of his book he was stumped on. After the drug wears off he seeks out the family member for more of it.
This new ability almost like a super power is leading him towards everything falling into place. He had found a shortcut in life. So he starts to wonder if there is any limitation to what he could do? What could he accomplish if he really put his mind to it?
After he gets more of the pills he is able to finish his book in one night and then starts testing his abilities on the stock market. He makes very large returns on small investments. This success leads to him advising a business tycoon who is merging two very large corporations.
But just when things are really taking off he starts experiencing side effects. He starts experiencing blackouts, apparently having moved great distances between periods of lucidity. He finds himself in random places often wondering how he even got there.
He begins to find himself in a whole world of trouble being hunted by both the police and mafia. And he doesn’t even know why.
All because he was desperate to take a shortcut in life.
Recently the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg gave a commencement speech at a graduation ceremony. One of the things he said was that there are no shortcuts in life. As many assume he became the world’s youngest billionaire in a moment because an idea popped into this head. He says it never would have happened without years and years of education and experience in computers and social context.
There are no shortcuts.
Like Zuckerberg John the Baptist makes the same declaration in Luke 3. Crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do. John explodes he calls them “A brood of Vipers” which in today’s language would be like saying, “You S.O.Bs. He says do you honestly think a little water on your skin is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change.
And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming to “read the Bible”, or “go to church”.
God can make children from rocks if he wants to.
What counts is your life.
John’s message offers a Moment of truth: Devises for maintaining an illusion of innocence must be abandoned.
The condition of your heart has to change.
You can’t talk your way into this.
There is nothing to swallow, no act to be done, and no invoice to be paid.
You must do the hard work of allowing yourself to be changed from the inside out.
You are always either growing or dying.
You never stay the same.
Are you growing or are you dying?
Because you’re always doing either one or the other.
If you’re not growing then you’re dying. If you’re dying, you will eventually come to a point where you are spiritually dead.
And the Bible says in Luke 3… what is dead gets thrown into the fire.