How to Be a Human and Part of a Family

By May 11, 2010 culture, faith No Comments

Quirky movies are my favorite. I like stories rich with dialogue, which quirky films are more likely to have. I willingly sacrifice a fast-paced plot for proper character development.

This is why I prefer the six-hour A&E version of Pride and Prejudice to the 2005 feature-length release, mainly because the newer film takes separate conversations from the book and crams them together to save development time. That’s just not right.

Anyhow, I’ve watched two quirky movies this week, one being Martian Child, which is a story about David, a widower who must decide if he will carry through with an adoption he and his wife were planning before she died. The boy, Dennis, is highly creative and imaginative—almost prodigy like—and those are the skills he uses to cope with being abandoned by his parents. This overactive imagination helped Dennis rewrite his identity and life: He isn’t actually a human boy; he is a Martian from Mars on a mission, and his people will be back for him once his mission is complete.

Dennis’s grand imagination is endearing at first. As I watched this eccentric little boy, I thought I would want such a creative, free-spirited child if God were ever to bless me with one. But the story is also honest, as it also shows the frustration of living with someone who acts so bizarrely.

One conversation between David and Dennis was especially sweet:

David: And what are you doin’ up?

Dennis: Learning.

David: Learning? Learning what?

Dennis: How to be a human and part of a family.

David: I think you speak for a lot of us there.

Being from a planet of abandonment devoid of family made Dennis feel alien. Even for those of us who don’t come from such a background, often we feel like we can’t quite make out our own humanness, let alone know how to live well as part of a family.

Too often we try to learn to be human and part of family by observation and fact collecting, thinking we can test it out and get good at it before being immersed in it fully. We want to know what we’re doing so we don’t mess it up or get hurt. In reality, we cannot be fully human without being part of a family, and we are ever learning what that means. And learning cannot come without some measure of pain.

The only Person fully human and capable of perfect connectedness is Jesus. Being perfection in the flesh, the Son enjoys perfect intimacy with the Father and the Spirit. God created us to be like Jesus as image-bearers of His—fully human and perfectly connected to Him and to others—but our sin has deadened our humanness and ruined our intimacy with God and others. Amazingly, God came after us to redeem us from this horrid aberration:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5)—God has restored our humanness, making us alive in Christ.

And now, by this “grace you have been saved, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5–7)—God has restored us to intimate fellowship with Him (and potentially with others too), where we can now sit with Christ and be with Him forever.

I’m still learning what this means. I am like Dennis, learning what it means to be human and part of God’s family. It’s not a fast-paced plot, but the character development is worth the view.

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