I have a confession to make, I have been watching a lot of Dr. Who on Netflix lately. I found the series at the recommendation of a couple of friends. There are several things that I enjoy about the series. I love how the Doctor talks about humanity. We are squishy, slow, and fragile. However, we have an amazing desire to survive any way possible. When we are at our best, we are inventive, passionate, and amazing. The Doctor often tells people that they are brilliant and beautiful, especially when they think they are the opposite.
Today, I watched "Dark Water" (8:11). (If this is a spoiler to you, you might want to skip this post.) I was struck by the theological applications on what might just be my favorite exchange in the series so far. Clara, after just throwing the keys to the Tardis (the time machine ship) into a volcano as a punishment to the Doctor for refusing to do something that would be completely unethical and dangerous, finds out that the setting of a volcano was all caused by a drug induced dream. Had the dream been real, it would have been absolutely devastating. The Doctor would have had no further access to the Tardis.
Clara: You're going to help me?
The Doctor: Well, why wouldn't I help you?
Clara: Because of what I just did, I just...
The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed our trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I've ever stood for. You let me down!
Clara: Then why are you helping me?
The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?
Let that last line sink in for a moment. Imagine a relationship where utter betrayal is understood in a context that it cannot destroy a friendship or relationship. It is hard for me to imagine a relationship that could weather even absolute betrayal with any of my friends. Sometimes I worry that I said the wrong thing or poked a little too hard in a corner of their life that they did not want to share. For me to betray a friend's trust is devastating to a relationship. For me to actively work to destroy what my friend worked so hard to establish might cause us to cease to be friends. I admit that if I were on the receiving end of this, I might not be able to forgive too easily. Trust, once broken, is not easy to give back.
Now, at this point in this essay there are a few turns I could take- Forgiveness, damage of jealousy, damage of anger, human relationships, as well as several others. However, this is the Year of Mercy.
This is precisely the relationship that God has with us. We need to only look at salvation history to realize that the story of the Jewish people is the greatest love story ever told. God loves people, people wander away, something bad happens, people come back to God. And every time this happens, God takes them back. It is no secret in the Jewish scripture (Old Testament) that God is desperately in love with us, despite our stubborn rebelliousness. Then, God decides to send Jesus. We humans (Yes, all of us are included here.) think it is a great idea to kill him. After all Jesus might be dangerous. So, we kill the Son of God by way of crucifixion.
If we think that is the end, it isn't. Jesus proclaimed a life of peace and love. Instead of listening to this, we are still fighting, arguing, bombing each other... We are destroying the Earth and becoming more distanced from each other... We don't care for our brothers and sisters in our human family and, sometimes, we no longer care for our blood siblings. We are slowly abandoning everything that God has worked so hard to teach us since the beginning of time.
We have betrayed God.
We have betrayed God's trust in us to care for the Earth and each other.
We have betrayed and neglected our relationship with God.
We have even worked, whether consciously or unconsciously, to undermine what God has tried to do for us.
We have let God down! (That was hard for me to even type.)
BUT... and this is a very important point...
God loves us anyway. God can take the betrayal. God can take the lies and cheats. Listen to the doctor's words again, "Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?" On my best days, when a friend does something that hurts me or stings just a little, I like to say, "You can't get rid of me that easily." On our worst days, God is saying to us. "I still love you. You cannot get rid of me that easily. After all, do you think that my love for you is so weak that even your biggest mistakes could really do us in forever? Just come back. I love you for who you are."