Thursday, November 15, 2018

When Jesus took the Kobayashi Maru

In the 2009 Star Trek movie, fans got to see something they had heard about for decades. Every Starfleet commander was required to take a test called the Kobayashi Maru. The test was designed to measure a person's response to the no-win scenario, to test their character. Unfortunately, James T. Kirk didn't believe in the existence of the no-win scenario, so he decided to change the rules and hacked into the test to change the parameters. He got into a heap of trouble, but he made his point. The way Captain Kirk would handle no-win scenarios would be to change the rules, to change the game itself. He chose to shape the game and the world into what they should be rather than what they were.

In John chapter 8, the Pharisees had a game they wanted to play with Jesus, trying to tap him in a no-win situation to make him look bad and themselves look good. So they found a woman who had been caught committing adultery and brought her alone to Jesus.  They didn't care about the woman or even about justice for her crime. All they cared about was trapping Jesus and they didn't care who they hurt or used to do it. They brought this woman who was probably naked (since she had been caught "in the act") and paraded her before Jesus. They reminded him that the law demanded she be stoned and asked him what to do, hoping he would either contradict the law of Moses and commit blasphemy or condemn her and lose credibility with his message of love. "This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground" (John 8:6, HCSB). When these Pharisees came along, using this woman in order to make a point, Jesus refused to play their game.  He stooped down and wrote in the sand as a way of changing the game and keeping them from using this woman. Then he changed the premise they were operating under when he said, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7, HCSB).

There are a lot of games that people play that we can choose not to be a part of, that we can choose to change. Sometimes that game is using people for one's own benefit. Sometimes it is taking advantage of an unfair playing field, getting ahead at someone else's expense. Sometimes that game is setting up other people to fail or intentionally making someone look bad so we can look good. Whatever game is being played where winning is more important than people, we can not only refuse to play but we can take action to change the game. We can change the rules by helping someone else even if it makes us look bad. We can refuse to allow people to define the conversation in a way that is suited to benefit them and no one else. We can choose to live by a different set of rules and demonstrate to people there is a better way to live.

Are you simply playing the game that you find yourself in? Playing along because that is the way the world is? You can choose to change the game. Don't let yourself or anyone else be reduced to bring a pawn.

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