When I claim to have seen the future I mean I have repeatedly watched the 2012 Kia Soul commercial (see the previous posting). Seemingly set in the dark and dangerous future when humans face off against invading aliens in a post-apocalyptic urban landscape, Kia wants us to know we have a trinitarian source of salvation: three gigantic hamsters who both drive a cute little Kia Soul AND shuffle to “Party Rock Anthem” by the somewhat rudely named group LMFAO. Bless their little vermin hearts, they teach us to dance our hatred, conflicts, and fears away; then they drive off into a considerably brighter rural future. Peachy. And problematic.
The first problem is this: anyone worth their weight in cedar chip hamster bedding can tell you the dire end facing humans is the dreaded zombie apocalypse, NOT some mythical alien invasion. The real threat is the “undead human”, not some strange alien being. Zombies look like us; heck they were us until evil, i.e. death, utterly and totally got the upper hand. Now they wander the earth looking for human brains to eat…or something like that. Theologically speaking what we have to worry about is not some external threat, like aliens, but the evil already within us. The “other” won’t destroy us nearly as quickly as the “self” can and will. We are our own worst enemy. As N.T.Wright points out in his book, Evil and the Justice of God, contemporary people are incredibly naïve with regard to the topic of evil. We insist the “other” person is evil, but I am okay. We attempt to draw the line demarcating good and evil between ourselves and the “other”. However, Wright argues, the line runs through each and every individual. Good and evil co-exist within everyone. To deny this fundamental truth can be deadly, at least in a metaphorical sense and sometimes in a very real sense.
Second, unfortunately, it isn’t easy to overcome evil and its end results, such as hatred, violence, and death. If the only thing standing between us and world peace was huge genetically engineered hamsters we’d be cruising to utopia. If it was as easy as teaching those same hamsters to dance to dubstep and drive a sporty Korean car, we’d be on easy street. Life would be peachy. However, moving forward to a peaceful future is much more difficult than figuring out how to create 5’6” 250 pound dancing hamsters. We need to face the “real” us, the “real” me. That is difficult, and some days it is almost impossible. It isn’t easy to come to terms with the harsh reality that we are often driven by self interest, both individually and as a group: I am more important than you; my tribe is more important than your tribe. We can’t dance away the alienation that develops between people. We can’t party away the tendency to strike out at the “others” who are seen as threats to our personal advancement.
Some Christians have long argued the only way to avoid a post-apocalyptic wasteland is to die to self and selfishness and rise to new life in Christ. Commitment to the trans-tribal and trans-temporal Kingdom of God replaces our shallow and narrow tribal connections and the urgency of the immediate. The lordship of Christ both humbles and places our small selves in perspective. We, as Paul suggest of himself and his relationship to Christ, are slaves of Christ, not the other way round. We are called and charged with the task of being ambassadors of Christ and his Kingdom. This involves hard work, faith, and hope. No hamsters, no dancing, no wishful thinking.
[Please note: I have followed one of the blog rules: every fifth posting will mention hamsters. And I fulfilled my hope that I could mention N.T. Wright in the same posting as the hamsters.]