This November, a movie that I’ve been longing for will be released: “Ender’s Game.” Ender’s Game, the book, written by Orson Scott Card, is a modern science fiction classic. It follows the young life of an exceptional boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. The premise of the story is that humanity, 100 years beforehand, had been invaded by aliens, “the Formics”. They almost wiped out humanity until, by a seeming stroke of luck, they were stopped cold.
In the intervening hundred, humanity has developed a “Battle School” to train children in military arts, hoping to find a commander who could beat the Formics with finality. The world hopes Ender is that commander.
So far, I haven’t given away any spoilers, but I’m going to give a small one away now, so be warned: “spoiler alert!”
Early in the book, Ender is confronted by a gang from school. For various reasons, Ender knows that no adults will help him, and he is alone. Being a very, very smart, but undersized boy of six, he reasons that he not only needs to figure out how to beat these bullies, but he needs to beat them so decisively that they will never confront him again. He therefore taunts the group’s leader into fighting him alone, and proceeds to beat him (in spite of his small size) to death. Shocking, I know.
Now, while I was reading this, I thought, “What would the boy Jesus have done in this situation?” He’s the real saviour of the world, after all. What would the boy Jesus do if he knew that he would not be protected by adults, and that these bullies would never leave him alone, and that every day he would have to be beaten--that he was truly alone. At first, I couldn’t discern the fault in Ender’s thinking; it was completely logical: “I will have to face these bullies every day. No one will help me. Therefore, I must help myself. I will beat them at this game so badly they will never fight me again. Win one fight decisively, so that no other fights ever have to happen.”
And then I realized that Ender’s decision was completely logical only if one believes that one is truly alone.
But of course, that is precisely what Jesus did not believe. He believed firmly, deeply, completely that he was not, ultimately alone. Did he believe that God would help him avoid the bullies? No, not necessarily. Did he believe that God would prevent him from dying due to his beatings? Only if God desired to do so because of God’s plan for his life. BUT, he knew that he was never alone. That is why, I believe, he could truly “turn the other cheek.”
However, there are many today who claim to believe there is no God, but who would also claim that Ender’s act in beating this bully to death was heinous. And so, here is my invitation: is this truly an insight that is valid, or am I off my rocker? If it’s valid, is it something that might be useful in our interactions with others? If so, how? Do you see examples of this theology of “aloneness” or, rather “not-aloneness” being played out in this world? Do you live like you’re “alone” or like you’re never alone?