Yep. It’s here.
Anyone who knows me is probably not surprised by this post and is probably surprised it hadn’t come sooner.
For anyone who doesn’t know me, let me confess something. I am a Whovian. I belong to the Doctor Who fan nation. I have a t-shirt, two mugs, a Sonic Screwdriver, an iPhone case, and more. In other words, I really enjoy watching the longest running sci-fi show in the world brought to us by BBC featuring a time-traveling alien guy who always seems to find trouble and always seems to kick trouble’s teeth in.
The 50th anniversary special was the largest simulcast screening of any show ever. It was shown in over 90 countries and viewed by countless millions around the world. So what is it that makes the Doctor so popular? Is it the concept of time travel? The scary aliens and monsters? The historical figures? The witty writing? The cool companions? The quirky, lovable, fearsome Doctor?
I’m sure it’s all of the above. But there’s something more. There is something within the show that appeals to our deepest human emotions and desires. No matter what the situation, the Doctor never loses hope in humanity. He brings out the best in people. He takes ordinary folks and makes them extraordinary. The Doctor offers humanity hope, adventure, and a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Doctor Who brings elements of the gospel to the masses in a way that preachers behind a pulpit just can’t. And guess what, (surprise, surprise) the gospel resonates deep within the human soul regardless of race, gender, nationality, socioeconomic status, or religion.
EVIL IS REAL
The Doctor is never afraid to call evil for what it is. When the Daleks show up to “exterminate” the human race, the Doctor will never be scene having a philosophical discussion about the relativity of morality. No. He sees evil. He calls it evil. He does everything within his power to stop the evil.
We live in a world that is so convoluted morally that it is difficult to see through the haze of “whatever”-ness. “You’re OK, I’m OK” may sound good as a book title, but it simply doesn’t work in real life. Evil is real. Right and wrong do exist. There are some things that are absolutely bad (see Ephesians 6:12). Morality is not relative in the real world. We can’t do whatever we want. Some things, some actions, and some people are simply and truly evil. The Doctor resonates with us because he has the guts to call it like it is.
HUMANITY IS WORTH SAVING
There is something about the human race that is special and lovely and brilliant in the sight of the Doctor. Other alien species cannot figure out why the Doctor would go through so much effort to protect this “pale blue dot” of a planet. The Doctor sees what others cannot. He see the beauty, the potential, the perseverance and endurance of our species. He knows our will to survive, but he also knows out inability to save ourselves. So time and time again, the Doctor eagerly and willingly saves the Earth and the human race from certain destruction.
That’s what we all want, deep down inside – someone to fight for us even though we don’t deserve it. We long for someone to love us for us, not because of what we can give in return. We want someone who can look past the fallenness, the brokenness, the sinfulness, and love us anyway. That’s exactly what God gives us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“DON’T WANDER OFF”
Every time the Doctor gets a new companion and shows them an alien world he gives them the simple command, “Don’t wander off.” And what do they always do? They wander off. It makes me wonder if the Doctor tells them that in order to get them to wander off, the whole “reverse psychology” thing. Regardless, those who travel with the Doctor will most certainly wander off and find themselves in risky, dangerous, life-threatening situations. And often they are on their own to work their way out. It provides and opportunity for personal growth and experience. They have to learn on their own that traveling with the Doctor is not safe, but they wouldn’t grow otherwise.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus will necessarily include risks and dangers. Jesus told his disciples to “take up your cross and follow me.” The life of a disciple is never meant to be boring or safe or dull. After all, we have already died. What can man do to us? The life lived by faith, following the Holy Spirit, is a life of adventure knowing that whatever happens we are going to be okay. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“HE WILL KNOCK FOUR TIMES”
One of the saddest scenes in the show is when the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) sacrifices his own life to save the life of one single elderly man. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it easy. He willingly gives up his own life to save the other man, but he’s not happy about it. Even though the Doctor knows he will be regenerated, death is always the scariest of foes. Yet time and time again the Doctor, without thinking twice, puts his own life on the line to save those he cares about.
Jesus, even knowing the glory that awaited him, went to his death with tears in his eyes and fear in his heart. He did not go quietly into that dark night. He raged against the dying of the light. But he never thought twice about it. He didn’t try to weasel his way out of dying. And he did to save all of humanity, yes. But he also did it to save you and me individually. He swapped places with us. “God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
HE BRINGS OUT THE BEST
The Doctor pretty much always has a companion, a traveling buddy. These companions begin as regular, unassuming, unimpressive people. And while the Doctor never actively seeks to transform them, simply being around and traveling with the Doctor is enough for them to undergo some pretty incredible changes. Rose went from a retail worker to “BAD WOLF.” Martha Jones was a physician, and she ended up saving the Doctor and the world. Donna Noble was a temp. secretary and she became the DoctorDonna. Amelia Pond was just a little girl who waited, and she became…well, the Doctor’s mother-in-law. Clara Oswald was just a nanny, and she became the impossible girl who salvaged the Doctor’s own time stream.
All throughout the Bible, God has a knack for taking ordinary men and women and turning their lives into something extraordinary. Gideon was a coward. David was a shepherd. Peter and John were fishermen. When people follow Jesus, change happens on its own. When people commit to obeying God, their lives are transformed beyond anything they could ever imagine.
IT’S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE
The Doctor travels around in an inconspicuous blue police phone box called the TARDIS. Because of some nifty Time Lord technology, the whole ship is much, much larger on the inside. Every new co-traveler is taken aback by this impossibility. From the outside, it’s nothing more than a blue wooden phone booth. But on the inside it’s the most powerful vessel in the galaxy.
Stick with me on this one. The church is bigger on the inside. I’m not talking about the building, though that would be really sweet. But the people of God gathered together in worship to him and service to others really is bigger on the inside. From the outside looking in the church can seem unimpressive and impotent. In order to really understand the magnitude of the Lord’s church, one must step inside and become a part of it. It’s truly amazing how big of an impact such a small group of people can have in the world. Twelve men driven by the Holy Spirit “turned the world upside down.” No collective group of people has had as big an impact on the world than the church. No matter how small it may seem from the outside, the church, when powered by the Spirit, is bigger and more powerful a force than you could ever dream.
If you aren’t a fan of the show, now you are probably beginning to understand why I like it so much. If you ARE a fan of the show, I hope you are beginning to realize the reasons for the mass appeal. Whereas the world keeps pushing filth, foul language, sex, and gratuitous violence, Doctor Who offers love and hope and greatness in the midst of some pretty terrible circumstances.
So keep watching. Keep dreaming. Keep laughing and crying. And keep looking for the gospel message from here to Gallifrey.