When does a story become more than just a story? What makes a work of fiction truly great? I would argue that the “magic element” is the presence of fascinating characters who not only entertain us, but who reflect the truth about ourselves.
With this in mind, if I were asked to choose the one fictional character who I find to be most fascinating, I would have to choose Spock from the Star Trek franchise. Working alongside some of the most recklessly passionate humans to ever exist aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, this Vulcan scientist’s obsession with logic makes him appear to be a fish out of water. Seeing the emotional ups and downs of human beings through his eyes, however, is always highly entertaining:
“May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with Humans? I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.” – Spock
But don’t let Mister Spock fool you – he’s not as cool or as perfect as he strives to appear. While he is half-Vulcan (thus the near absence of emotion and inspiring intelligence), he is also half-human, and watching him grapple with the inner war between his two competing natures is a fascinating experience.
And a familiar one.
The Duality of the Christian Heart
It would be wonderful if we could become Christians and achieve instant perfection – never having to worry with sinful desires or selfish attitudes again. But that’s not how it works. While we are instantly redeemed the instant we ask Christ into our hearts, we will not be completely sanctified, or made perfect in nature, until Christ comes again.
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” – I Thessalonians 5:21-24
In the meantime, we are left to struggle with the duality of our nature. As Jesus describes in Matthew 26:41, at times our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Each day we face the inner turmoil of a great battle raging within our hearts – the Spirit of God is working to make us more like Christ, while our sinful nature is working to drag us down.
This daily battle is exhausting – and often surprises new Christians. I remember several of my former Sunday School students calling me to talk about daily temptation, and how they felt guilty because “strong Christians” don’t seem to struggle with that kind of thing. My answer was always the same. Every human being struggles with daily temptation – mature Christians have simply fought those battles enough times that they have learned how to arm themselves against the attacks they know are coming. In fact, persevering through these spiritual battles is how strong Christians become strong Christians!
Scripture tells us not to be surprised by this inner conflict. Instead, we are to think of ourselves as aliens and strangers in this world:
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” – John 15:19
“For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God.” – I Peter 2:10-12
Spock – Grace Under Pressure
Which brings me back to what I love most about Spock. Despite the raging battle within him and the constant onslaught of danger from without, he handles each situation with admirable grace and an overwhelming sense of calm. The reason for his heroic efforts to thwart evil and save the day? It’s only logical, of course!
“Without followers, evil cannot spread.” – Spock
While Spock is a work of fiction, he reminds me that the world is full of actual Christian heroes who defy logic and, in the power of not the Holy Spirit, manage to valiantly tame the beast within and win great spiritual victories against overwhelming odds. Stories of these seasoned veterans of the faith inspire me to no end, and motivate me to follow their example.
May we all learn to walk with the Spirit in this way, and in so doing, to “live long and prosper.”
What fictional character do you find most intriguing, and why?
Photo Credit: Free “Star Trek” Wallpaper Images – http://startrekdesktopwallpaper.com