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come with me if you want to live

"you're dead already. you know i believe it." -- sarah connor, terminator 2

last week on my last night in atlanta, i stayed up until midnight to catch the premier of terminator: salvation. i am a huge terminator fan, going back to the first edition, way before arnold became the governor of california. i still remember working in my dad's video club when terminator came out on video-- the movie came with these terrible sunglasses. i wore them forever. i was in college when T2 came out, not just a great sci-fi film but a top 20 all-time for me. hmm, one of these days i'm going to sit down and write out that list. i wasn't that impressed with either terminator 3 or the sarah connor chronicles.. so it was with mixed emotion, and exhaustion, that the credits began to roll.

the movie is very exciting, a special effects feast. but it lacks in soul. what made T2 so great was not just the effects, which are still amazing 15 years later, but the story. one terminator tries to kill john connor; another tries to be his father figure and protector. his mother realizes that she too is human, capable of feeling empathy and compassion even toward someone she has sworn to hate. we see that even those in danger themselves-- working on behalf of millions to avert future armageddon-- still cling to what makes them human.

T4, however, has no human element whatsoever-- especially among the humans. the most emotion we see is when marcus realizes that he is a machine. john connor acts with a sense of purpose, which is fine-- he's a soldier. but every time we see his pregnant wife we wait for him to pause and reflect upon the world his child will soon inhabit. i understand that 2018 is all about survival. machines are everywhere, even underwater. there is literally nowhere to hide or rest. but where is the hope? where are the dreams? are they resigned to their present and future, only able to focus on fixing the past?

(there's a sermon right there.)

here's my question: when we lose our will to live-- not survive or exist, but truly living-- hasn't death already won? if john connor is too focused and busy to notice his pregnant wife and unborn child, if the only moment of intimacy in the film is where a woman hugs a man (actually machine, but neither knew at the time) only to keep warm, isn't the war really over?

Jesus said, "i came that you may have life, and have it abundantly" (john 10:10). those words are most powerful when we feel weak and helpless. we believe life has passed us by, we are redundant, alone, and afraid. we are constantly worried and stressed, and hope is something that only naive, clueless people believe in. then we remember that life is a gift. no matter how lonely we feel we are never truly alone. and slowly the future, the past, and the present come better into focus. "we have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (hebrews 6:19a).

and if that doesn't help, remember Jesus' promise: "i'll be back" (john 16:22).


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