Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Making an Android Jesus

In the early seasons of Star Trek: the Next Generation, there is a controversy that surrounds Data, the Enterprise's Android officer. Is he a person or a tool? Is Data really alive our just a complex series of algorithms that make him look alive? The two different camps break down somewhat predictably. Those who have served with him, spent recreation time on the holodeck with him, played poker with him, and generally gotten to know him believe that Data is alive and deserves all the rights and protections of a living being. On the other hand, those who want to use Data, to turn him into an army of Android slaves, those who see Data through lenses of what he can do for them, see him as nothing but a machine, a complex tool to be used however they see fit.

Mark chapter three contains a passage that demonstrates that, when it came to Jesus, people tended to break him into those two categories as well. The first part of the passage describes how the crowds mobbed Jesus because they knew about his abilities to heal and cast out demons. These people were only concerned with what Jesus could do for them, to the point that Jesus instructed his disciples to have a small boat ready for Him, so the crowd would not crush Him (Mark 3:9, HCSB). Notice, this was not a boat for him to teach from because people were coming to him in order to be healed. This was a getaway boat just in case the people started to crush him!

Contrast that scene with the one a few verses later where Jesus called some of his followers, the ones he wanted, and "named them apostles — to be with him" (Mark 3:13-14, HCSB). He also called them to teach and cast out demons, but the first reason given is just so they can be with him. What a contrast from the scene just a few verses before where Jesus instructs his followers to have a getaway boat ready in case the crowd starts to crush him!

But what about us? Are we more interested in Jesus as a person or as a machine? Are we only interested in what Jesus can do for us? Or do we want to know him? When Jesus set the disciples apart, one of the primary reasons Jesus gave was for them to be with him. Yes, they were going to preach and do miracles and turn the world upside down, but to do that they had to know him first. They had to be willing to spend time with him on his terms and not just hang around to see what they could get out of it. Are we willing to just be with Jesus? Or can we only see Jesus through the lens of what Jesus can do for us? Are we willing to get to know him or is Jesus just a tool to us?

How will we choose to treat Jesus? Is he a Person whom we get to be with and know or a tool we use to get what we want?

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