I love Star Trek just as much as the next person, but I’m not sure it offers an appropriate or accurate theology for us as Christians to live by.
Most of us seem to think that once we become a Christian, we’re just supposed to sit around anxiously waiting for God to “rapture us up”! This becomes especially evident when we’re going through any sort of hardship in our lives: “Oh God, please just take me to heaven right now. I’m so sad/angry/depressed/sick/annoyed, and I just don’t want to go through it anymore.” Now, it’s not like we’re suicidal, but I would expect that there is a good chance that each of us has thought that at least once. I know I have multiple times. In fact, I recall most of those thoughts of mine occurring on the toilet… But you didn’t need to know that.
We get to this point where we feel all these emotions and just get so fed up that we want to give up. The problem with this is I think it can be an indicator that reveals to us our selfishness. It shows us that we think we’re in control. That we’re supposed to fix this world all on our own. So, instead, we get frustrated and hope that God will just take us out of the mission field - literally the opposite of what we’re made to do.
I think sometimes we may forget what our role is on this earth. I know I did until just recently. I took a look at the story in Genesis of when God created Adam and Eve.
"So God created man in His own image; He created them in the image of God; He created them male and female.” - Genesis 1:27
We are made to be image-bearing worshippers of God. Again, that’s probably another one of those Christian clichés that you hear all the time that has totally lost its meaning, so let me just unpack it a little.
Because we bear the image of God, we are representatives of His character, His righteousness, and His authority and reign. But, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we as humans don’t really do well to represent God. At least, I don’t think I’m close at all to being comfortable enough to say that I’m like God, or God is like me. We all failed (i.e. sin, the thing that messed up everything and is basically the focus of all I discuss in my blog posts). So God sent somebody who could actually do the job that we seem to fail at all the time. But He didn’t just send anybody. He sent His Son, Jesus.
Jesus was the perfect image-bearer.
Not only did Jesus come as an example, but he gave us the opportunity to renew our lives so that we can live them as they are meant to be lived.
It’s not a matter of remembering what things to do, and what things not to do. It’s not a matter of how well you can argue different points of your theology. And it sure as heck isn’t a matter of how many people you can condemn based on their actions. It’s the opposite.
C.S. Lewis uses an imperfect example that I thought was helpful. Imagine if you had a bunch of toy soldiers made of tin, but you thought it would be so crazy cool if they could be made real! Into tiny human beings. So you suddenly had powers like God and started turning their tin into flesh. You started improving their image-bearing ability to better represent you (kind of like how, why, and what Jesus did). But they didn’t like it. They’ve only ever known what it’s like to be tin. So they fight it. All they see is that the tin is getting ruined. They think you’re killing them!
But this is where tin soldiers differ from human beings (besides the initial fact that humans aren’t made of tin). If we as humans are refusing to be changed because we don’t want to leave what we’ve always known, we start to change our minds if we see someone who is enjoying that changed life. Then we want it. That’s just the way we are as humans. We’re like one big mass of humanity.
(This is the part where you stop reading because you were already familiar with C.S. Lewis’ example and are annoyed at how poorly I represented it - but I think I got my point across. wink wink)
So as image-bearers, our job is to - ON THIS EARTH, RIGHT NOW - live as God meant us to live and how Jesus did live. Our job as Christians is not to just accept a free ticket to heaven and wait impatiently to go as we watch (and secretly hope for) the world to crumble without God. No, we are created to go into the world, to be a part of the healing process and help to convince the other tin soldiers that being human isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s pretty awesome. We must spread throughout the world to unify the culture as image-bearing worshippers of our Creator, convincing them by our actions and not our words. Show them how amazing and fulfilling it is to live as Christ did.
It’s funny how complicated we can make Christianity at times. We seem to forget that it almost exclusively involves recognizing what Jesus did during his lifetime and living to the best of our ability like him. It’s not a matter of remembering what things to do, and what things not to do. It’s not a matter of how well you can argue different points of your theology. And it sure as heck isn’t a matter of how many people you can condemn based on their actions. It’s the opposite. KB, a gospel artist, conveys in a Bible devotional that our lives consist of daily opportunities to testify or to lie about God, and about Jesus, through our actions.
Once you realize what you have in Christ, and the example that we’re meant to live by, it’s no problem going out into the unreached parts of your town, your family, your school, your country, your world and testifying as true image-bearers. And that, truly, is the Final Frontier.