Ever had Star Trek quoted to you as gospel?
I realize there are people who are serious, religious even, about Star Trek, but surely we can tell the difference between the gospel and science fiction, can’t we?
Well. . . you might be surprised.
A few years ago, Eric and I were leading a support group or special needs families on Sunday evenings at church. We were certain of God’s call in this area and were excited about what God was doing through the ministry.
But we were suddenly stopped dead in our tracks.
You see, we took our kids with us on Sunday nights. My son with Asperger’s was attending the same Bible class as his twin sister. It was the only option available other than the specific special needs classroom we set up to accommodate the needs of our support group.
Because my son is so high functioning, we chose to place him in the regular Bible classroom with the help of a “buddy.”
Things were going well, at least as far as we knew. We’d gotten only positive feedback.
Then out of the blue one day I got a call. That kind of call that parents of special needs kids know all too well.
I was told my child would no longer be allowed to attend Sunday night Bible class.
The decision was made and I was simply informed.
I still don’t know specifics. Years later I’m unsure about what happened that caused such drastic measures. I asked if my child had been aggressive and was told he had not.
When I tried to investigate further, I was ignored. Calls and email went unanswered. After multiple efforts to speak to the teachers about the matter, I couldn’t get through, and therefore couldn’t even try to help find a better solution.
So we went to the next level and met with ministerial staff. We told of the events, about how the decision was made with no prior communication. That if we had known there was a problem, we would have gladly helped solve it before our son was (for lack of a better term) “kicked out.”
The staff responded with kindness and sympathy. Everyone was nice and polite. They said they understood our concern. And then they told us they fully supported the decision that had been made.
In other words, the official position of the church staff was that they were okay with a child being excluded.
One minister reasoned that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
I questioned him, referring to the scripture in which Jesus says to leave the 99 on the hill and go look for the one who’s lost. The minister smiled and nodded but made no further reply.
And that was it.
- We withdrew our children from Sunday night programming.
- We were forced to give up the support ministry we were leading on Sunday nights.
- And I began my headlong free fall into intense anxiety.
Over the next several months, I tried to reopen conversation with the church staff over the issues concerning special needs families. I did not want to give up. I did not want other families to experience what we were experiencing.
But I was mostly ignored. My pleas fell on deaf ears.
The Gospel or Science Fiction?
I’ve already admitted I’m not a Star Trek fan. I’ve seen a few of the movies, but I can’t quote any lines.
So imagine my surprise when we came home after the meeting and Eric said, “I can’t believe he quoted Star Trek.”
“What?!?” I replied.
“Yeah,” he said. “That ‘needs of the many’ quote is straight out of Star Trek. You know, Mr. Spock.”
Um, no. I didn’t know.
So let me get this straight. My son was just excluded from a church activity because of a quote from a sci-fi movie?!?
Again, I realize people love Star Trek. My husband loves Star Trek. Please, Trekkies, hear me out!
It’s not okay for ministers to use movie quote as theology. Isn’t that what scientology is? It sends up major red flags because it’s all kinds of wrong.
Here’s what Jesus had to say about the matter:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” –Matthew 18:12-14
You see, Mr. Spock’s quip of Vulcan wisdom makes perfect sense to our human minds.
- It sounds heroic, brave and true.
- It is, as Spock says, logical.
- It helps to further the plot of the movie and inspires viewers to feel good by the time the closing credits roll around.
- It makes for a great movie.
But God’s philosophy is an upside-down one.
His kingdom is one which always appears to be contradicting itself.
Jesus says you’ll find your life by losing it, that the first shall be last, and the master shall be the servant. It doesn’t sound very logical at all.
And here’s the thing: no matter what the needs of the many may be, God always, always, ALWAYS places distinct value on the individual.
Even — or dare I say especially — on those who are least valued in our human society.
Every human being to ever live, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant or even plain unlikable — is a person created in God’s image. And the true gospel clearly shows how Jesus loves and cares for each one.
Star Trek or Jesus?
We can invest our lives in the philosophies and ideologies of the world — those of the government, the cable news channels, celebrities or talk show hosts, or even fictional characters like Spock. And all of it sounds well and good and seems to make perfect sense.
It seems logical to place the needs of the many above the needs of the few.
At least until you — or someone you love — are one of the few.
Then your world turns upside down.
That’s when you need more than movie philosophy can offer. Instead, you need what Ann Voskamp calls an “upside-down kingdom.”
You might say, “But wait a minute! Didn’t Jesus do exactly what Spock was talking about? After all, He sacrificed Himself for the needs of many!”
But you see, Jesus didn’t just come as a sacrifice for the many. He also came as a sacrifice for the few. He came as the sacrifice for ALL.
Jesus said it plain as day, that when we honor and love and care for the few, for the least, and yes, even for the one— we honor and love and care for Him.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” –Matthew 25:37-40
I’m happy to enjoy some popcorn and a sci-fi flick at the local cinema. Because I love to be entertained.
But when it comes to theology, I’ll stick with Jesus.
My heart belongs to the Ruler of the upside-down kingdom. And He’s no science fiction. He’s the real deal.
*An earlier version of this post was published in 2013 on www.sheridacon.com.