When I was a child, I wanted unlimited power. I wanted to be like ‘Q’, who was a character in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Q was a supernatural being with unlimited power. He could be anything, do anything, and cause anything to occur. He could shift time or create alternate timelines. He could do things beyond imagination for his own amusement.
Decades before Q was written into the Star Trek Universe, I wanted to be Q. I wanted that type of unlimited power to make anything happen.
Why? Because I felt powerless and alone, abandoned by God and misunderstood by the grown-ups in my life. I was angry at what I couldn’t control and afraid of what others could. Being powerless, I needed a source of power.
I had the answer at the start, but threw it away: His name was Jesus. Jesus was my miracle-worker, He is the ultimate superhero, He is on beyond Superman, He is the best role-model in history, the only one of value.
After having my innocence ripped away through sexual abuse, and my childhood disrupted by endless seasons of isolation, I abandoned Jesus. After that, the only power I had was the power of imagination. This imagination was at first enhanced, but then quickly deceived by pornography, and then by drugs, and finally by alcohol.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians you see Jesus for just this: a Super Man, the Firstborn from the dead, the forerunner of a people who will inherit God’s kingdom.1 Even better, Jesus doesn’t hold himself up as a seemingly impossible example to follow under my own power.
Instead, Jesus lifts Himself up as an example where, through faith in Him, I can become more like Him. He’s invested in my journey and not worried about my destination. It’s already assured.
If I look to Jesus, to be like Jesus, I can rely on Jesus. That’s His plan for all of us. But I ran up against evil forces I couldn’t address and abandoned all that.
The Illusion of Fairness
Oddly, hope remained even in my darkest days. Through it all, I still sought a whole-hearted redemption, a reconciliation, a world put to rights. We are all wired for this. We like saying, ‘It’s not fair!’ Made in God’s image, we desire justice because He does.
But justice isn’t justice unless it’s absolute. Anything less is inadequate and cosmically unfair. Let me explain.
Left to our own devices, you and I can’t achieve true justice, only justice based on the lie that somehow life should be “fair.” The unfixable flaw is that my sense of fairness may not align with yours or someone else’s, and so we are in conflict. The daily news provides endless proof of this. In God’s domain there is only absolute justice and it is measured by one standard only – His standard. Using our broken world’s standards, people can only contrive relative justice.
This relativity is the endless failure of all human systems: in order for one person to receive full justice, someone else has to be denied it, or it’s doled out without mercy. There are no true win-win resolutions in human conflicts. Relative justice may offer incremental change along the old spectrum, but doesn’t bring transformation into a new one. Only God can do that.
Justice Ain’t the Problem
For many years, I lived in the hope of a Star Trek future, where crime is history and poverty doesn’t exist and governance is altruistic, enlightened and universally just. In my 65 years I’ve seen enough political futility to know there will be no Star Trek future. Not ever. As human beings under our own power alone, we are incapable of pulling that off.
I’m not a wet blanket, just telling you the truth. It’s not that you and I aren’t capable of kindness and mercy and courage and heroic sacrifice. Individually, we are! It’s because we are made in God’s image, and that’s who He is! But we’ve proven ourselves incapable of this en masse, because the world is full of sin.
The world has a righteousness problem, not a justice problem. We try to find redemption under our own power, and we fail. We can make change, but little progress. We can ease poverty, but we will never cure it.2 We can create welcoming communities, but not welcoming societies. We will never truly beat our swords into plowshares. Not alone.
Even atheists can set up charities and spend billions to ‘do good.’ But in and of itself it isn’t enough. In the long term, it transforms nothing.
The Problem of Evil
There’s one final piece to consider: the problem of evil. Relative human systems all fight evil as they define it in their relative ways. But in God’s kingdom, evil is absolute just like everything else.
All the evil in this world comes from the devil, the enemy of God. He hates God. He hates me. He hates you. He wants us to look to ourselves for answers, not to God. Satan’s greatest delight is when you don’t believe he exists. Because then you are captive to him.
Ironically, the final piece of my faith puzzle years ago was not belief in Jesus, it was belief in the devil. Until I accepted that the devil really did exist, working evil in my life, I couldn’t come fully into my own as God’s man. The great lie of every age is that there is no Satan, not that there is no God. The second greatest lie is that God somehow contains or creates evil as well as good.
Have there been many evils perpetrated in the name of God? Of course! People are broken. Evil acts can come through people of every faith and by those of no faith. But think of this. If I went out and robbed a bank, and said I did it in your name, would you have any of the blame or responsibility? Of course not.
So, if you have been hurt or misled, or wounded or lied to by someone in the Church, leader or laity, mentor or friend, or if you’ve suffered at the hands of someone who claimed Christianity, don’t blame God. He didn’t do it. It was people – fallen, broken people who do bad things in His name, people tricked by the devil.
It’s easy, I suppose, for a secular mind to conclude that God doesn’t exist, because the mind alone is limited to its own powers of observation and reason. How can a human use finite resources to grasp something infinite? No, we have to tap in with our hearts, connect in faith in the face of what our senses tell us.
It’s Dead, Jim
There are great scientific leaps of understanding every year, and yet, there is always more to know. The secular scientist holds out these leaps as proof of a human delusion that the universe has evolved from nothing into an infinitely complex marvel, and that given enough tools and time, we’ll fully understand it. It’s another fallacy from the Star Trek Universe.
The Christian looks at these same things and instead sees how they all validate what’s written in Scripture about God’s creation. Every scientific breakthrough then bolsters faith, instead of being an argument against it. Reason is an important part of faith, but must be subordinate to it; the reverse cannot logically follow. Christian faith is not at odds with science and does not war against it. Rather, it is the scientific atheist who wars against Christ.
A veritable atheism industry has now sprung up. Books containing the apologetics of atheism top the best-seller lists, as do books about how to proselytize to make more atheists, books instructing Christians how best to reject their faith and books about why they should. The Case Against God by George H. Smith is my favorite of these.
I confess I haven’t read it, so won’t judge the content; for me, the title is enough to show the illogic of it. The title says that God exists, but the author will make a case against Him. This is atheism’s dilemma, claiming disbelief in God while actually waging war against Him.
Atheists can only argue their identity in a negative. Atheists are not nihilists – they don’t believe in nothing. Instead, they purport to believe against something. And that is not identity. It’s a sad form of circular logic.
Are you an atheist? I admire your perseverance. Keep listening.
Star Trek is dead.
It’s dead, Jim.
Jesus is alive, and He’s knocking at the door. And He will keep knocking until you either let Him in, or are yourself dead.
The final lie from the Star Trek Universe is that death is the ultimate end. Death is not the end, but when you pass through it, who you have faith in (and refuse to have faith in) will determine the train ticket you find in your pocket.
1 Colossians 1:15-18
2. Matthew 26:11
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