There was a time I was a hero to my son. He thought I walked on water. He knows better now. We all have weak moments, moments where we lose faith. But it’s our flaws, our weaknesses, that make us human.Others have already commented on the biblical connections in “The Demon Hand” episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (see especially James McGrath’s musings), a series that follows the lives of Sarah Connor and her son John, the future-savior-of-the-human-race in a war against sentient machines—a war they are seeking to prevent from happening. Indeed, this episode had the most overt God-talk of the season so far, with no less than two direct quotes from Scripture and the revelation that one reoccurring character seems to be a church-going believer. But it was Sarah’s voiceover at the end that left me with some things I found worth considering—which ended up reminding me what makes us who we are.
Science now performs miracles like the gods of old, creating life from blood cells, or bacteria or a spark of metal. But they’re perfect creatures, and in that way, they couldn’t be less human. There are things machines will never do. They cannot possess faith. They cannot commune with God. They cannot appreciate beauty. They cannot create art. If they ever learn these things, they won’t have to destroy us. They’ll be us.
--Sarah Connor, voiceover at the end of the “The Demon Hand” episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Like all good science fiction and stories, Sarah’s words get at what it means to be human. While I don’t believe that it is our weak moments and flaws that make us human, they are an inescapable part of our experience as we are now, in the middle of the Story. But if we were made in God’s image and to be in relationship with him, then our longing for beauty, our expressions of art and acts of faith are also part of our human nature—the parts that echo our original intent and design and destiny.
For we weren’t made broken. Once, at the beginning of all that was, at the beginning of the Story, we were created whole (Genesis 1-2). This world—with all its death, destruction, wrongness, pain, suffering, selfishness and hate—is not how it is supposed to be. Once, it too was good. And both we and the world long and groan for the time when we will once again be whole.
To be human here-and-now means we were all made for a different world but live in this broken one (broken ourselves)—but God does not leave us with that. Instead, he invites us to the life we were created for now. An abundant and boundless life lived from and with and in God as we were made to be. A life of already-but-not-yet, a life living in the wide-open spaces of his grace and glory and love and just-ness and right-ness that is-now-and-will engulf all that was ever made. We are being restored and redeemed and recreated by the same breath and voice that spoke all that is into being. The world is changing as the Story moves forward. Yes, it is still filled with all the brokenness and wrongness, but these will not triumph. They are even now being swallowed in the explosion of God’s life-breathing work. We and this world will be whole again at the end of the Story. And that is all good news.
All this God does because he loves. For he so loved the world (John 3:16). God is love (1 John 4:16). His is a love like the father of the prodigal son rushing to meet his longed-for boy while he was yet a long way down the road (Luke 15:11-31). An unbridled child running to a love-brimmed father. A swirl of strong arms enveloping abandoned joy. Love. Acceptance. Right-ness. Indescribable and abounding grace. And when we embrace and trust the Message—that Jesus fixed it all, that he lives in us, that we are deeply rooted in him, that we live him (Colossians 2)—we “throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise” (Romans 5:1-3). We find this love makes it home in us as we have made our home in him (1 John 4:16-19). That reality doesn’t change when we stumble in our flaws or weak moments. We need to confront and confess when we stumble and fail—and we will do that often—but we don’t need to hesitate to run to those arms that are always waiting, eager and loving. That is where we live now. That is the way it works in the Kingdom.
And when this kind of love makes its home in us, it calls us to beauty, to faith, to right-ness and just-ness and truth and light. So, in the end, I don’t think Sarah’s quite got it right when she concludes the terminators’ flaw is perfection. It is not imperfection that they lack, but love. If they knew that kind of love, they’d begin to know the rest.
Just like us.
For more from this blog on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles go here and here.
(Images: Fox) ttsccctgy