Wednesday, June 6

Star Trek's "Data" on Glorifying God . . .

Lt. Commander Data

I have always enjoyed Star Trek, especially Star Trek-The Next Generation made popular in the late 80's and early 90's.  One of the notable characters on this series is Lt Commander Data, an Android, an artificial mechanical, robot-like individual who is constantly studying the "human equation" hoping--Wizard of Oz like--to become more human himself. In one episode, Data encounters Dr. Graves, reputed to be the most intelligent scientist known. The two form a close relationship especially since one of Dr. Graves' specialties is cybernetics of which Data is a fine example. Graves was trying to explain to Data the term "delight." Data proceeded (per the norm) to give a dictionary definition. It was accurate . . . as definitions go. But Graves pointed out that giving a definition, knowing what it means is not the same as experiencing it. I thought, "Oh, how close you are in this dialogue to describing one of the greatest besetting problems that has ever faced mankind and which has not escaped the Church.

Too many within the boundaries of the Church who call themselves believers will have to admit to about as much understanding of God's glory as Data did of the term "delight." They may be able to give a paper definition, but they fail to testify to its experience. This is very sad indeed. I feel at times the pang of such a weakness in my own heart as well. I know that as a Pastor, it is easy for me to teach & preach regarding this issue, even with passion, and still not feel it myself. Let me cite a verse:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

There is a great difference between desire and desire defined. There is also a world of difference between the dictionary meaning of "delight" and the act of delighting. Thanks to Star Trek Next Generation this lesson was reinforced to me. For a number of years both Jonathan Edwards and later John Piper have pressed this upon our consciences. Basically, they have taught that it is one thing to talk of glorifying God, quite another to DO it. Further, it is one thing to glorify God, but it is still much better if we delight in glorifying God!

To draw this home, perhaps our greatest need in the church is to get our idea of God right. In short, our God is too small, too weak. A. W. Tozer throughout his ministry gave much energy to this topic. Hear him write regarding the Christian's belief in a weakened God: 
The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks over our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. (Tozer on Christian leadership: A 366-day devotional).
Now, that's the weakness. Hear from Tozer again on developing a right relationship with God:
When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near. 
You may never have realized it before, but all of those elements in our perception and consciousness of the divine Presence add up to what the Bible calls “the fear of God.”… 
There are very few unqualified things in our lives, but I believe that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state and the most purifying emotion the human soul can know. (Christian Leadership)
Breathless adoration! Awesome fascination! Now we're getting somewhere. Star Trek was clearly a God-denying show, but Graves got this much right about Data, and by extension, about us as well. It's one thing to be told to delight in God, quite another to experience it. May God grant us a revival of interest in our intimate union with the God of glory and thus having this, we must, yes, we will delight in Him!

No comments: