Let Intern Thursday commence! This one comes from newest Mockingfledgling, Win Jordan. For those who haven’t seen Into Darkness yet, spoiler alert!
The second installment of the reinvigorated Star Trek franchise hit screens on May 16th, raking in an impressive $86.7 million dollars in the domestic box office over its premiere weekend. Director J.J. Abrams and his crew kept the film shrouded in mystery which made for eager internet speculation amongst the members of the rabid Trekie fanbase. The special effects and the performances, mostly notably Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain, Khan, alone made it a must-see summer movie, even if you haven’t seen the first film.
The movie takes great interest in the human (or half-Vulcan) ego. All of the main characters—even the villain Khan—seem to have insatiable Jesus complexes, intent on finding a way to sacrifice themselves to save the crew. Of course, sacrifice isn’t a bad thing–God’s gift is loving sacrifice—but here on the USS Enterprise we find its interstellar incarnations taking the forms of competitive strife.
Competitive sacrifice as Abrams tells it is the ugly offspring of pure sacrifice and scorekeeping. It’s sacrifice done out of expectation, done to settle a debt or to indebt another person. (i.e. husband mows lawn because he doesn’t feel like cooking dinner, so spouse will feel her return obligation is to cook dinner.) In Star Trek, Spock first sees sacrifice as a violation of the “Prime Directive.” He later sees it as his duty. As the Enterprise is falling to Earth, he must attempt to sacrifice himself to save the crew because, in the opening of the movie, Kirk sacrifices his job to save him from death.
We, the audience, are supposed to see the sacrifices of the crew of the USS Enterprise done out of love. However, after this culture of sacrifice has been established and the time comes for Captain Kirk to make the ultimate sacrifice of contracting fatal radiation to save the failing ship, the audience expects him to do this without second thought. The audience has become entitled to Kirk’s sacrifice.
Jesus’ sacrifice is not causal or exchange-based like this. He died for us out of his everlasting grace, not out of any obligation. He died, not for the reciprocal relationships he found on his way, but for his mockers, crucifiers, and wayward disciples. We sometimes are overwhelmed by this unwavering grace and feel unworthy of this precious gift bestowed on us. This feeling of unworthiness, again, is connected to our human nature to keep score because we feel as though we need to return the sacrifice to Jesus. We turn to our good works and try to please God. Even still, we are trying to even the score because that it what so many of our relationships are based on, competitive sacrifice.
In Christ there is no competition, which is lucky for us because we could never, ever win. We can let go of our feeling of unworthiness because Christ made a “true and perfect sacrifice,” laying himself out to contract our fatal radiation. He sacrificed not out of expectation, but out of love and grace.