If I were a preacher, I would use the geekiest sermon illustrations Christendom has ever known.
I once joked about using the Millennium Falcon as the basis for a sermon. As a pastor, I probably wouldn’t go that far… but then I might. I’m sure there are parallels between Han Solo’s dilapidated starship and the profound truths of Christianity. I just haven’t found any. At least not yet.
I was recently reminded of a great lesson by Doctor Who. The Doctor has become one of my favorite fictional characters, surpassing even literary greats like Anne Shirley and Bertie Wooster in my esteem.
One of my favorite things about the Doctor is the way he responds to commonplace things—humans, for example—with amazement.
“Look at these people, these human beings,” he exclaims. “Consider their potential! From the day they arrive on the planet, blinking, step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than—no, hold on. Sorry, that’s The Lion King.”
Pop culture allusions aside, the point is made: humans are pretty darn awesome.
At one point, the Doctor runs into a research team investigating an unprecedented phenomenon. Their curiosity delights him. “So when it comes right down to it, why did you come here?” he inquires. “Why did you that? Why? I’ll tell you why—because it was there! Brilliant! Excuse me,” he adds, beaming. “Just stand there, because I’m going to hug you.”
In his travels through space and time, the Doctor never fails to appreciate how weird and wonderful they are. Plain old people astound him no less than the greatest marvels of the universe.
Like the Doctor, G.K. Chesterton looked at ordinary things and pronounced them extraordinary. “I do not generally agree with those who find rain depressing,” he wrote. “A shower-bath is not depressing; it is rather startling. And if it is exciting when a man throws a pail of water over you, why should it not also be exciting when the gods throw many pails?”
Michael Card, my favorite songwriter, has this to add: “If you must see a miracle, then just look in the mirror!”
Too often, I live without thinking. I follow a mechanical routine of habits and repetitions without pausing to consider how brilliantly strange my life has been—and is.
With my computer and its microphone, I can carry on conversations with people thousands of miles away. With the flip of a switch or the touch of a button, I can summon light, heat or water instantly to my apartment. With a digital camera, I can create near-perfect images of anything: pictures that are stored securely in a tiny chip of metal and plastic.
My life is weird in ten thousand glorious ways—and I take it for granted. I shouldn’t. Thoughtless repetition leads to ennui, ennui to discontent and discontent to discouragement, ungratefulness and all kinds of nasty things.
How much better it is to appreciate the wonder of simply being alive!