Not long ago, while driving around Austin, TX with a few friends, I noticed that the car in front of us had an Imperial insignia and a Triforce attached to the bumper. I pointed these out to the guys and was immediately called a nerd. When I joked that I had never been called that before, one friend simply responded, “That’s doubtful.” We all laughed because we all knew the truth: I’m a huge nerd. There’s no denying that fact. Furthermore, I always enjoy looking for spiritual parallels in the geekiest of stories. That definitely makes my day.
If you know me, you know that I really like Doctor Who. This show has taken its place as my favorite show of all time (and space). I love the witty humor, the good-natured fun, and the sense of adventure that the show consistently brings to the table.
Part of the draw of this show comes in the Doctor’s relationships with his human companions. The Doctor, an alien, almost always brings a human along for his adventures. By doing so, he gains unique perspectives that prove invaluable. These relationships can also make for some profound moments as they often comment on human nature. And, in some cases, the Doctor’s relationship with his companions can help to comment on man’s relationship with God as well.
Such is the case with the Doctor and Clara Oswald. As the finale of series eight begins (spoilers), Clara suffers a tremendous loss and seems to go into shock, unable to fully process her grief and move forward. In desperation, she attempts to extort the Doctor into helping her regain a lost loved one, and, in so doing, betrays his trust and goes against all that he stands for. She attempts to rule by force the very man who seeks resolution apart from such means.
She fails in the attempt, however, and she crumbles upon realizing that she has completely turned on her best friend in the most monstrous of ways. And, yet, the Doctor offers her his help. At this, she is dumbfounded, asking how he could still help her after what she did. He responds at first in agreement with her, stating that she has indeed let him down. He appears hurt and angered by her actions, but he kindly responds, “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” (Doctor Who, “Dark Water”). At this, she starts to cry, and he quickly tells her to stop, noting how odd it is that her eyes seem to inflate in such moments. The current Doctor isn’t much for sentimentality.
The Doctor’s statement there stuck out to me. He loved his friend so much that not even her betrayal could lessen his care for her. As I thought about this relationship, Paul came to mind. In his letter to the Romans, he writes these words:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is the ultimate act of love. Jesus became sin for us, saving the very people who turned from him in the first place. Though we deserved the wrath of God, we were offered redemption and mercy. Though we deserved death, Christ died to give us life. Though we fall guilty before the throne, we are made to stand righteous because of Jesus. He meets our betrayal with his obedience. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful…” (2 Timothy 2:13). The great Physician heals the fatal wound.
I love the picture of the Doctor’s faithfulness to Clara because, in it, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to us. More specifically, I’m reminded that God did the same for me. Though I have betrayed his love and have let him down time and time again, still he forgives and embraces me as his own. Still he blesses me beyond what I deserve. Still he loves, though I don’t deserve any such blessing. I remember this, and I am humbled, changed by his love to love others in the same way. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 1:19).
Though we may never travel through time and space with an alien in a police telephone box, we can experience a love that surpasses anything this earth can offer, traces of which can be found everywhere. Whether you love Doctor Who or Mumford and Sons or the Arsenal Football Club, you can find shadows of the Gospel, reflections of the greatest story ever told. At every turn, we can give thanks to the God of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), whose love and mercy and grace are found reaching from the cross of Calvary even down to tv shows and music and sports. His blessings are beyond number, and each one can lead us to a deeper love of him, reminding us of his glory and beauty. So we go, rejoicing in his redemption and growing to know him more through it all. Life with him is the greatest adventure; and, unlike the stories and shadows of this life, this adventure will never end. Allons-y!