Last night I saw Divergent and it underscored a big, profound message I’m receiving from Jesus this Lent: it’s really good to be human.
The main character in the movie has that big problem: she’s too human. She has diverse gifts (as we all do) that make her unable to be categorized and thus controlled by the government. She can’t be easily turned into a machine, which makes her a threat to the domination system that fears the complexities and unpredictability of human nature.
It’s a dystopian scenario that we seem to love these days, and probably for good reason. Our advances in technology, though wonderful, can take us into dangerous territory. We can kill people remotely. Those with enough money and power can watch people on cameras anywhere, and collect a lot of data without relationship, and make a lot of judgments that are applied to large groups of human beings. Governments and big businesses market to increasingly “smart” categorical divisions based on preferences, skin color, education, what you looked at last on the internet, and so on. Dr. Martin Luther King warned us about this—about the cultural temptation to “thingify” people—to treat people like a commodity that can be bought and sold. “A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will ‘thingify’ them and make them things.” The global economy seems to be going this route and I fear that it gets into our psyche’s and allows us to think less of ourselves than we are. It also encourages us to think of ourselves in the same categorical divisions that the market prescribes.
Yet the essence of being human just can’t be pinned down, right? We are marvelous creations. We are flesh and blood, spirit, emotion, intellect, with enormous unique capacity for love. I learn and receive this from Jesus more than anyone, who was in all ways tempted like we are. Being fully human, he had choices to make, all along the way. His way is not a formula to apply. It’s not a button I can push or a commercial tag line I can mimic. It requires my humanity—yes, as inefficient as that is, it is exactly the place where God meets me and transforms me. All of who I am is known and met and indwelt by the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. What a mystery, and it’s meant to be. Let’s not thingify what we can’t control. Our divergent humanity is God’s home.