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Lines in the sand

11.18. 2019 Posted By: Mennonite Church USA 515 Times read

Warning: If you are not a fan of Star Trek or classic literature, this post may confound you.

Ever wonder what Jean Luc Picard and some Mennonites have in common? Lines in the sand, especially when it comes to articulating our fear and facing uncertainty.

In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg are trying to prevent first contact with alien life. I won’t bore you with the whole temporal displacement backstory. Just know that the USS Enterprise arrives hundreds of years in its past on April 4, 2063, the day before humanity’s first encounter with alien life. While Captain Picard is fighting space robots, Commander William T. Riker makes sure Earth gets its first warp drive launched (progress). But the Borg and Picard have a long, complicated history. The Borg captured, tortured and assimilated Picard, and although “resistance is futile,” it is apparently very painful.

When Picard engages the Borg, wave after wave of fear floods his soul, and he comes to a moment where he declares, “We draw the line here. This far and no further.” The Borg are trying to rewrite history and Picard is having none of it. Picard launches into an angry fit, destroying both furniture and relationships.

That same narrative plays out in Mennonite Church USA—not with space robots, but our documents. People often like to share with me where their line is. Then I begin to wish space robots would come and save me, but it seems resistance to our documents is as futile as resisting the assimilation of the Borg. What I find most frustrating by our “lines in the sand” is that most lines are drawn in ignorance. As Henry Melville wrote in Moby Dick, “Ignorance is the parent of fear.” That fear unchecked becomes our devil and impedes our ability to ask the right questions, to adequately hear the response and for us to live into our mission of bringing healing and hope to the world. We chase our white whale, or our Borg to our destruction, and we miss the beauty of the open seas.

For some in our denomination, specific documents are our line. For others, the definition of marriage is the line. In truth, we all have lines. Each of us has boundaries. Some may be set in stone, some may be drawn in the sand, but we all have lines. I prefer my lines to be drawn in the sand where they are subject to the wind and movement of the Spirit. I trust God’s ruah, a Hebrew word meaning Spirit or Wind, which adjusts and bends my boundaries of fear toward God’s divine will and purpose for my life. I cannot set my feet or understanding so firmly that I am no longer subject to the transformation of the Holy Spirit.

To read the full version of this article on MC USA’s Menno Snapshots blog, click here.

Glen Guyton is executive director of Mennonite Church USA.

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