I’m a Trekkie. I don’t think it’s ever come up here before, but I make no apologies for being a big fan. I don’t have a Star Fleet uniform or anything, but do enjoy most of the series. The original Star Trek aired on NBC from 1966 – 69. That series made social and political commentary, sometimes dealing with very controversial issues, but in a sci-fi setting. Gene Roddenberry wanted to share his vision for a better world, a world of peace and racial equality, not just entertain an audience. There was always a “moral of the story” but some people were so entertained they were unaware of being educated.
Each Trek series has at least one character wrestling with the idea of being human. Mr. Spock was half human and half Vulcan. He chose to live as a Vulcan, relentlessly pursuing logic and suppressing emotion, though his human emotions were always just below the surface. In the 1980’s Star Trek The Next Generation (TNG) introduced us to Lt. Commander Data. He was the most advanced artificial intelligence Star Fleet had encountered, and was considered to be a sentient being. Despite being able to do many things better than any human could, he never achieved what he really desired – to obtain humanity.
The EMH (emergency medical hologram) on Star Trek Voyager was accepted by his shipmates as a member of the crew, despite merely being a projected image. His medical knowledge surpassed any single human doctor, but he had much to learn about being a person. During season 4 of that series Seven of Nine was added to the cast. Seven had begun her life as a human but was assimilated by the Borg at an early age. Her character development was all about becoming an individual after being disconnected from the collective hive-mind of the Borg. Some of my favorite Voyager episodes revolve around her and the doctor working together.
What it means to be human is only one subject that Trek dealt with; practically the entire Trek universe is an allegory for real life. The issue of humanity is a complex one. Ask three psychologists what it means to be human and be prepared to get four answers, if not more. We almost seem to be saying that to understand what it means to be human you have to be one. That is exactly the point I intend to make. God is infinite. God is infinite in wisdom, in power, in holiness and in every way we could imagine. God does not sin and is not tempted to sin, according James chapter one. Does God understand what we go through? You can’t really empathize with someone’s situation unless you yourself have been there. Can a God who is all eternal and all powerful put himself in the shoes of a weak, sinful, frightened human being? Jesus did.
Jesus walked the earth for 33 1/2 years in a body of flesh. He experienced hunger, thirst, physical pain and rejection. Jesus was tempted to sin but did not. He suffered all the things that are common to the human experienced. Jesus is God, but the Bible describes him as being “robed in humanity.” Philippians 2 says “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus role is now that of high priest – he continually goes into God’s presence on our behalf. He has no sins of his own as the Old Testament priests, and the sacrifice he offers – his own blood – is greater than that of doves and sheep. He is God, but not a god that is not touched by our infirmities. What ever we may be going through, Jesus understands. He has walked many miles in our shoes. One of the Bible names for Jesus is Emmanuel, or God with us. He has literally been here and done this. He has already defeated death, hell and the grave. What is there to fear after that?
Analyzing the characters on Star Trek is just another way of thinking about ourselves. The only way to really get what it means to be human is to be one. God did that. He knows exactly what we are made of. He knows how we feel. I can crawl around on my hands and knees, lap water from a bowl, even sleep inside the dog house. But I can never be the dog. Jesus condescended to our level; “In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” There can be no greater proof that he loves us.