As you were warned, I'm a bit obsessed with Doctor Who. And by "a bit," I mean incredibly. It's just... it's just so good. There are aliens and dinosaurs and time travel and space travel and comedy and romance and bow ties- basically everything awesome in life. Even a fez sometimes. But what I really love is all these little life lessons to be garnered, a few of which I'll be exploring over the coming weeks.
In the recent premiere of series 7, entitled "Asylum of the Daleks," the Doctor encounters his greatest enemies, the Daleks... in an asylum. (Yes, I'm aware that the title is fairly self-explanatory.) Daleks are an alien race of cyborgs, created when every emotion but hate is removed from a life form. As described in this episode, the way to create a Dalek is to subtract love and add anger. So basically, they're horrible. Just awful. And because they both fear and loathe the Doctor, they are programmed to kill him while shouting in their terrible robot voices "EXTERMINATE!"
Anyway, through a series of events that are unimportant to this post, the Doctor is sent to a planet full of insane Daleks to aid in the destruction of said planet... and said Daleks. What he does not expect to encounter is spunky and brilliant Junior Entertainment Manager Oswin Oswald. She explains that the starliner on which she worked crashed a year ago, and she's been trapped on the planet since, keeping herself busy making souffles and awaiting rescue.
Oswin's instructions guide the Doctor and his adorable companions Amy and Rory to safety and to the brink of escape- but before they go, she has one request: that they come get her and take her away. As this is fairly reasonable, the Doctor makes his way to her... only to discover the gut-wrenching truth: upon Oswin's crash, the Daleks recognized her genius and turned her into one of them. Her lovely life of making souffles was simply a dream she'd thought up, an illusion to help her cope with the nightmare of reality. And as the Doctor reveals this to her, she almost gives in to her programming and almost takes his life.
Yet she doesn't... she fights it. Instead of exterminating him, she saves him. You know what? Just go watch it here. Go watch the scene.
Oh, Oswin. How well your plight represents my own. Okay, not exactly. I'm not a Dalek. And I've never traveled in space. Or met the Doctor... okay, it's not a perfect metaphor. Nevertheless, I can relate to that emotion- having the desire to do something I know I shouldn't. (HA! There it is- the way that this post suddenly makes sense on a Christian blog. Bam.)
Which brings us to Romans 7. Paul explains these emotions so well: "I don't understand what I do. For what I want to do, I don't do, but what I hate, I do... as it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me... So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (v. 15, 17-23, 25b)
And there we have it: the temptation to sin paired with the desire to do good. It's a painful and difficult conflict, I think. As Christians, we know God's commands and we want to follow them. As humans in a fallen world, we have plenty of options that are not good... and we want to do those too.
What a duality! We are Dalek and human; we are sinners and saints. And when we're faced with the opportunity to choose which we will be, we must remind ourselves: we are redeemed. When we are in a situation where sin is an option, we must remember that it is just that: only an option. We have another choice.
Look at chapter 8: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death... Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." (v. 1, 5-8)
Just as Oswin concentrated her efforts on remembering her humanity in every moment, we must remember who we are in Christ. If, daily, we are making a conscious effort to be in Christ, to live as He lived, to know and love Him, we do not have our minds set on what our flesh desires. Our minds are in accordance with what God desires.
Oswin's story ended sadly. Her instinct was to destroy the one who wanted to save her, but she didn't. Although she went against her physical nature and saved someone she was programmed to kill, she was still a Dalek. She still died. Consider our predicament: our sin is a betrayal of our savior. Justice demands death in response to sin. How lovely that Christ, instead, took death in our place many years ago. Despite our being so prone to betray him, we are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven. (Yep. A Doctor Who quote from a completely different episode.) And through this, we have hope.
I'm terrible at conclusions, as you will learn over the coming weeks, so I'll leave you with the end of chapter 8. We've all heard this chunk of scripture, and if you grew up in church, chances are you had to memorize part of it as well. But we don't always remember what was in the chapter before: a struggle to obey or disobey, to sin or not. The option to betray him. And still, at the end of this chapter, we're reminded of beautiful hope.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (v. 35, 37-39)