God On Film 2009 part 1
The Values of Star Trek
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 5, 2009

This morning we’re beginning a brand new message series that will take us through the month of July. Each week, we’re going to look at one of the movies that’s now out in theatres and we’re going to see what we can learn from them about God, about Christian values, about building strong, healthy relationships… whatever we can learn by looking at the movies from a Christian perspective.

Now, one thing I’d like to clarify as we begin this series… we’re going to be talking about different movies, but we’re not viewing the movies themselves as our source of Truth. The Bible is the Word of God, and we’re not trying to replace it with any movie, no matter what the critics say about it or how many stars it gets.

However, what we are going to do is use the movies that are out right now to help illuminate what Scripture does say. And besides, what did Jesus do? Jesus told stories to help teach the Truth about the Kingdom of God. He referred to current events to get His point across. And the Apostle Paul even used what was then modern day mythology to point the way toward God. Specifically when he was in the city of Athens, Paul talked about the local myth about an unknown god who had saved the city from disaster, and then he used that to springboard into a discussion about the one true God.

So that’s all we’re trying to do during this series. We’re trying to use our modern day mythology and our pop culture to help us understand a little bit more about God and about His Word. And the fact is, you don’t even have to see the movies in order to come and participate here with us and discover the truth of God’s Word. We’re not necessarily endorsing these movies or encouraging you to see them.

But we do want to acknowledge that they’re out there. And considering the impact that the media and specifically movies has on our view of God, I think it’s worth our time to address the good, the bad, and the ugly about what the media tells us about God.

“Nothing in our society more influences our views about God than the media.”
~ Nelson Searcy

So next week, the plan is that we’re going to take a look at the movie “Up” and discuss some of the very positive themes of devotion, respect, trust and love. And by the way, unless you have a fear of heights there’s not really anything objectionable about this movie. It’s a good family film.
Then in two weeks, we’re going to use the movie Public Enemies about John Dillenger and J. Edgar Hoover to launch into a discussion about taming my temptations.
And we’ll finish up this series with a Harry Potter Sunday, talking about how as readers and watchers and as parents we can navigate the world of Harry Potter.

So that’s in the weeks to come. What we’re going to do this morning is look at the new Star Trek movie.

Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned from Star Trek:

10. Don't put all your ranking officers in one shuttlecraft.
9. Any conversation that starts with ‘Set phasers on stun’ will ultimately end with, ‘He’s dead, Jim.’
8. Alien women always go for a man in uniform.
7. That Vulcan nerve pinch thing doesn’t really work; it just gets your brother mad at you.
6. Apparently, there will be no use for pockets in the future.
5. Vulcans don’t lie. They exaggerate.
4. Tribbles are delicious. Okay, I didn’t actually learn that. But they look delicious.
3. If it can’t be fixed, just ask Scotty.
2. Rocks are people, too.
1. Never, ever, take a job that requires you to wear a red shirt.

Okay, so those are some of the lessons I’ve learned from Star Trek. Now, a little bit of disclosure before we begin… I’m a long-time Star Trek fan. I grew up watching reruns of the original series, I can list many of the episodes by title, I’ve seen every episode of every series, I can nitpick with the best of them, I’ve read several of the novels, I have some of the collectibles, and I’ve seen every movie. In fact, this most recent movie that came out in May… I’ve seen it two and a half times.

(Just to explain the half – This past Tuesday evening we went to see it as part of a doubleheader at the Drive In. The first movie was Transformers, and the second was Star Trek. I remember the Enterprise arriving at the planet Vulcan, Captain Pike going over to the Romulan ship, and I remember Shera waking me up to go home.)

Now, this is our first week of this series, and I’m already breaking one of my rules. I planned to speak about movies that are currently at the theatre here in town (at the other end of this building), but Star Trek is already gone. It’s even gone from the Drive In now. But since I’m so familiar with the Star Trek universe, I decided to indulge myself.

But hey, you can just be thankful that I didn’t indulge myself too much. There’s a church up in Kanata, Ontario that, several years ago, had a Star Trek Sunday, and all of the staff came that Sunday in Star Fleet uniforms, the whole place was decorated with a Star Trek theme… they played it up as much as they could. So you can be glad I didn’t go that route. Hey, I’m a Star Trek fan, but I’ve never dressed up as a Ferengi and gone to a SciFi convention, I’ve never learned to speak Klingon – not much, anyway, and I never once dated anyone painted green. I’m a Star Trek fan, but not quite a Trekkie or a Trekker.

But even if you’re not a fan… even if you detest all things Trek… the truth is, Star Trek really has had a profound effect on our culture. Let me show you…

 Starfleet Logo vs. Motorola Logo (actually , 1930, so bad example)
 Communicator vs. Cell Phone
 Uhura’s earpiece vs. Bluetooth headset
 Viewscreen vs. Flat Screen TV
 Tricorder vs. Stud Finder

There are a lot of parallels between the technology of Star Trek, and our technology today. And I think there are some parallels between the values of Star Trek, and the values of Christianity, too. So that’s what we’re going to talk about for the rest of our time here this morning… the values presented in Star Trek. So let’s get started…

Star Trek Values:

1.    Willingly give of yourself for the benefit of others.

Right at the beginning of the new Star Trek movie, you see George Kirk, the father of James T. Kirk, sacrificing his life in order to save his wife, his newborn son, and the entire crew of the U.S.S. Kelvin. And this is a constant theme you see throughout Star Trek – people willing to sacrifice their lives, willing to endure great pain, willing to suffer personal loss, all the for the benefit of others.

But this value of self-sacrifice is not one that is presented only in Star Trek. It’s a value that’s rooted in the Word of God.

Mark 10:43-45 (NLT)
“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In fact, this value of self-sacrifice has no real value apart from God. If there is no God, then self-sacrifice has no value. Because if there is no God, our only purpose in life is to survive and to pass our genes to the next generation. Which means that this kind of self-sacrifice, especially when it’s for the benefit of a complete stranger, is not a noble act at all. It’s a foolish act which threatens your survival and the survival of your genes.

However, when you hear stories like the one about Wesley Autrey, you can’t help but realize the courage and the valour or self-sacrifice. Wesley Autrey was a construction working with two small children, living in New York, who one day while waiting for the subway suddenly jumped onto the subway tracks in order to rescue a young man who had fallen off the platform. He grabbed the man, pushed him down, and sheltered him with his own body as the train passed overhead. The both survived, but Autrey had no guarantee of that. Yet he was willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of a complete stranger. Apart from the existence of God and the values He instills in us, self-sacrifice has no value.

So how does this value play out for the Christ-follower living in PEI in 2009? Well, chances are you’re not going to be called upon to give up your life for someone else. It’s certainly possible, like it was for Wesley Autrey, but it’s not likely. So what does it mean?

Well, there are other ways you may be called upon to make give of yourself. You may need to make a financial sacrifice in order to help someone who’s in need. Maybe you’ll need to sacrifice some of your time to be there for someone who needs your support. Maybe you’ll need to sacrifice your luxury in order to be part of what God is doing around the world. Perhaps you’ll need to sacrifice your comfort in order to step up, take the initiative, and tell someone about who Jesus is and what’s He’s done for you.

There are plenty of ways you can give of yourself, and I believe we’re all called to do that from time to time. We’re to give of ourselves for the benefit of others.

Of course, that’s counter-cultural to what you see in our society today. We live in a very me-centric society. We’ve talked before about how people seem to be tuned into WIIFM – What’s In It for Me? I mean, people are willing to make sacrifices today, but often it’s only when they see some kind of return for themselves.

There are even those in our world today who are willing to sacrifice themselves, not to save life or protect life, but to take life. But that is not the kind of self-sacrifice Jesus taught us. Jesus sacrificed Himself in order to give life, not take it. That’s the kind of self-sacrifice that the Christian values… the giving of yourself for the benefit of others… the self-sacrifice that flows out of love.

John 15:13 (NLT)
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

2.    Promote and follow a universal morality.

Here’s something you see throughout every Star Trek series, every movie, every book… it’s the age-old theme of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. It’s the idea that there is a universal morality… there are things that really are right, for all people, at all time, in all places. And in the Star Trek universe, you see this played out as the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise continually stands in the gap fighting against evil in whatever form it presents itself.

In this most recent movie, they fought against a Romulan villain, who was driven by hatred and was seeking revenge against the Federation. And this Romulan was bent on killing and destroying and doing whatever he could to get his retribution.

So James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and all the rest stood in opposition to this Romulan. They knew that there was a universal morality that applied to everyone… that they were on the side of good, and the Romulan was on the side of evil. And it was their responsibility to promote this universal morality and make sure that any opposing force was not successful.

So what does this value mean for the Christ-follower? Well, first of all, it’s similar to the value of giving of yourself in that, if God does not exist, this value does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no universal morality. There are only personal preferences, arbitrary rules for the benefit of society, and cultural conventions. But there’s no real standard of right and wrong. There’s only what each person decides is right and wrong.

Actually, that’s exactly how the people living about 3100 years ago viewed morality. It was way back in the time of the Judges… Under the authority of God, Moses had already led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt… Joshua had led them into what they called the Promised Land… and they had set up that area along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean as their new home.

But then the people started to turn their backs on God. They started to reject Him and His ways. They started to look out only for their own interests, and their entire society began to sink into lawlessness and disarray. This is they way the Bible describes what they became like…

Judges 21:25 (NLT)
All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

They weren’t following the ways of God, they weren’t living according to any universal standard of morality… they were all just doing whatever they wanted.

And that’s easy to understand, because if there is no God, there is no universal standard of morality that is right for all people in all places at all times.

But I think all of us deep down know that there is such a standard. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we recognize that there are actions that are really good and actions that are really evil.

Let me give you some examples. And it’s not my goal to play on your emotions, but I want you to realize that deep down you yourself believe in a universal morality.

For example, how do you feel about the rape of a young child? Is there anything really wrong with that? Of does it just make you uncomfortable. If it just makes you uncomfortable but the rapist is okay with it, who are you to say that what they’re doing is wrong?

Or how about the Nazis in the Second World War. If they had been successful, had won the war, and had wiped out anyone who disagreed with them and what they were doing, would they have still been wrong? If everyone in society believed the Nazis had done the right thing, would their actions have still been immoral?

You see, you believe they would have still been wrong. You believe that their actions would have still been evil. Which means you believe in a universal standard of morality that is true for all people in all places at all times, even when people don’t agree with it.

And if there is such a universal morality, its origins can only be found in God. It’s not a product of evolution, or else it’s just a convention of society. It’s not something that we all just agree on, or else it’s just an arbitrary set of rules that can be changed at any time.

No, we believe that there is a universal standard of morality that is established by God Himself, and it’s our responsibility to live by it ourselves, and to promote it in others. You see that in verses like these…

Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

James 1:27 (NLT)
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Romans 16:19 (NLT)
I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong.

3.    Gain knowledge through logic, science and exploration.

This is really the mission of StarFleet. And for ourselves, well, we talked about this recently when we talked about the relationship between science and the Christian faith. So we’re not going to spend a lot of time on it this morning. If you missed that message, you can find it on our website.

But just to recap, what we talked about was how we believe that everything that exists was created by God… and God is a logical, reasonable, orderly God. Therefore, everything He created can be explored and understood in a logical, reasonable, orderly way. In fact, even though a lot of people are preoccupied with a few exampled of supposed conflicts between science and faith, the truth is they are very compatible. And throughout history, the Christian faith has really encouraged and even pushed the advancement of science.

And the reason for that is that we believe God reveals Himself through His Creation. Yes, He speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. But He also speaks to us through Creation.

Psalm 19:1-2 (NLT)
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

Roman 1:19-20 (NLT)
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.

And this is why the Christ-follower is not asked to check their brain at the door. Instead, you’re invited and encouraged to use your intellect, apply your knowledge, implement your reasoning ability to learn more about our world, about our universe, about yourself, and about God Himself.

4.    Create and maintain a peaceful society.

Here’s an example of where the value is the same between Star Trek and Christianity, but the way of attaining that value is very different. While the mission of StarFleet was exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, there was an entire military branch of StarFleet that was devoted to keeping the peace.

VIDEO – peacekeeping and humanitarian armada

But while peace in the federation was attained and maintained through military force… through what we call Pax Romana… peace for the Christ-follower is attained and maintained through an inner transformation… through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which we’ve spent the past month talking about. And it expands from us as we take the mercy and grace and forgiveness and love of God which we’ve experienced and extend it to other people.

You know, it’s interesting how ineffective military might has been to create peace. In fact, statisticians say that since the beginning of recorded history, the world has been at peace less than 8% of the time!
In the past 3550 years, only 286 years saw peace.
During that time, more than 8000 peace treaties have been made—and broken.
(Moody Bible Institute, Today In The Word, June 1988, p.33 date adjusted for 2008)

But the peace that Jesus offers… the peace that He wants us to enjoy and extend to others… is a peace that cannot be created through military might. It’s an internal peace.

John 14:1, 27 (NLT)
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me…
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Colossians 3:15 (NLT)
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

This kind of peace is a peace that is not dependent on circumstances. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through; you can always experience this peace.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NLT)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

It’s a real, genuine peace that we can experience, and we can practice in our relationships with others.

Romans 12:18 (NLT)
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

5.    Be devoted to the prime directive.

In Star Trek, the prime directive that all Star Fleet officers vowed to protect was the directive of non-interference with the natural development of other societies on other planets. Which is funny because the only time that directive was every referred to was just before they broke it.

As Christ-followers, we have a prime directive, too. But it’s not the same prime directive that StarFleet officers have. No, our prime directive is found in the words of Jesus, the last paragraph of the Gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

That’s echoed again in Acts 1:8…

Acts 1:8 (NLT)
“And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

That’s the prime directive that Jesus gave to us as Christ-followers. And really, it’s just the continuation of His own personal mission. Talking about Himself, Jesus said…

Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

The directive that Jesus gave us is to go to our neighbours, to our families, to our community, and to our world with the message about Jesus, about the love, life, and forgiveness that He alone offers, bringing more and more people to Jesus and expanding the Kingdom of God.



Copyright © 2009 SunriseOnline.ca