“It can’t be too bad. No one from the future has tried to stop me from doing it.”
Lately, I’ve found myself fascinated by fiction where time travel plays a significant role. As you snicker at my bold-face, literary confession, consider that the idea of time travel has been around for some time and has figured into some weighty theories. Some respectable individuals have even suggested that time travel might just be possible. Just ask a fella by the name of Einstein.
Not convincing was it? Well, you can’t say that I didn’t try to bring some respectability to my love of science fiction. I failed miserably. Snicker away.
The premise behind time travel narratives goes something like this:
1.) Something happened in the past that should be studied and learned from.
2.) Something happened in the past that should be changed or altered so that our future history will be better off for it.
3.) Someone either gets stuck in the past or the future, and all kinds of mayhem ensues (thank you, Marty McFly).
In truth, there has been a spike recently in pop culture surrounding the element of time travel, and I find our collective interest in it to be telling. In a world of increased connectivity and awareness of tragedy, corruption and violence, it would seem that we have developed a strange inclination for dealing with human suffering. Apparently, the world’s problems have become so challenging that the only way that 21st century inhabitants can address them is to go back in time to correct or prevent them. Present day strategies to combat the difficulties that we face do not present enough optimism for us to attempt them in the here and now.
Now that’s depressing.
Although the world that we live in may give us evidence to the contrary, we people of faith in Jesus Christ are not powerless to bring about change. While it may be tempting to withdraw and bemoan the downfall of the world, God calls us to engage so that the power of the Holy Spirit will transform and redeem a broken world. As much as we might be inclined to quote fiery prophecies from the Old Testament about the evils of our world, the Gospel compels us to remember Jesus’s words on the matter: “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).”
God wants to save us. And saving requires intervention, risk-taking and courage.
When we look at God’s action in human history through the person of Jesus, we see a God who was not content with the realities of his creation. God demonstrated the full-expression of his love for us by becoming flesh and dwelling among us. As his ministry details, Jesus did not retreat to a hermit’s dessert cave hoping that we might find him out of a desire for enlightenment. No, God comes to us. God intervenes in our present day. God suffers with us. God weeps with us. God heals us. God redeems us.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to model our lives after the life of the One who came to save us. This means that we dedicate ourselves to the tasks of prayer and engagement.
Jesus teaches us to pray for “God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” By asking God to make things right in the here and now of our world, we are making ourselves available to be his instruments for his divine plan.
And when we make ourselves available to be used by God for his purposes, we see how God is calling us to be a people of both faith and action. For just as God is a God of intervention—creating our world, freeing the Hebrew slaves, sending his Son, Jesus, and saving you and I—God is asking us to be Kingdom citizens. Naturalization into the Kingdom of God means that we are a people who live according to God’s rules and realities and not the world’s predilections.
When we do this—when we pray for God’s will to be done, and when we choose to act as God has acted in the world—then hope, justice, healing and redemption will occur in our current day and age.
There’s no need for a time-traveling DeLorean. We can make more change today than we ever could have yesterday.