I have been and always shall be your friend.
There's not a Trekker (yes, I am an unashamed fan of Star Trek) worth his dilithium crystals who doesn't recognize that quote. Those are Captain Spock's last words to his friend Admiral Kirk in the movie "Star Trek II: the Wrath of Kahn." I remember seeing that movie in the theatre in 1982 with a group of friends, one of whom was a greater Trekker than me. When Spock spoke these words he actually broke down and cried! That movie has become one of my all-time favorites, and not just because it's Star Trek, but because it speaks of honor, self-sacrifice, commitment and brotherhood. We don't see much of those concepts in our culture today. I guess they've become too outdated to matter anymore.
I was reminded of those words last night when I took four of my kids to see the new Star Trek movie. Initially uncertain, I was encouraged by the early buzz concerning the movie and the favorable advance reviews that I read. The movie did not disappoint. The story was filled with action, humor, and honor, self-sacrifice, commitment and brotherhood. Why do I mention those qualities again? Because they mean so much to me. I learned those values from that corny old TV series and began to seek them in the lives of others. How appropriate that this movie premiered the same day that it was announced that Los Angeles Dodger player Manny Ramirez was suspended fifty games for using a banned substance. There's not much honor in cheating, even in baseball. Our culture now celebrates the anti-hero, and sadly, in much of our current forms of entertainment we find that those who should be heroes (the police, government officials, etc.) are among the most corrupt and evil.
I have been blessed throughout my life to see qualities like honor, self-sacrifice, commitment and brotherhood practiced. The good people of the Berea Baptist Church of Jacksonville, AR lived them before me as a child. Friends like David M and Don S (both lifelong friends) continue to live them out in front of me, challenging me to make those qualities real in my own life. I am most blessed to know these people and challenged every day by their example. My greatest hope is that my children will themselves demonstrate those qualities in their everyday lives.
There is a problem, however, those qualities can never be developed on their own. They must spring from a life that has been redeemed by Jesus Christ. I make no aplogies for the fact that Jesus is my Savior, that I have given my life to Him and that I try my best to serve Him every day. The only way that the qualities of honor, self-sacrifice, commitment and brotherhood will ever become real in our lives is through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God when one receives Christ as Savior. But they don't just happen. They are developed as we submit ourselves to the leadership of the Spirit, allowing him to work in our lives, exposing the hidden things, the favorite evils that we always practice. We're uncomfortable with that process, and we won't even talk about things like confession and granting forgiveness for wrongs done to us.
There is as great a deficit of those qualities in the church as in our society. I wonder how different our churches (and our world) would be if more Christians demonstrated them in an unmistakeable way. Kirk and Spock introduced a young boy to them. People like AJ, Shirley, Cliff, Bro. Dennis, David, Don and others showed me how they are to be practiced. Those folks have been and always will be my friends.