The Terminator franchise hits on two main themes every time, and Genysis is no exception: the complicated, mixed bags of technology and destiny. While the crowds are drawn to the action, no doubt, there is something else which draws us. It’s in these complex dilemmas which resonate with our souls, perhaps most so because the writers are careful to raise the questions without oversimplifying the answers.
The entire premise of the franchise is that the very technology which man creates to make things better will eventually destroy mankind. Ironically though, while Sarah, John and Kyle give all that they have to fight against the machine, it is also a machine which saves them time and again. One machine, actually, is reprogrammed for good and not only does the Terminator/Guardian save them, but he is the best friend and only father figure Sarah and/or John ever have (depending on which installment you’re watching). That’s complicated. It’s honest….it’s reality.
We have this complicated love/hate relationship with technology. It makes our lives easier; it makes our lives harder. It frees us; it enslaves us.
Like most things in our lives, technology makes a good servant, not a good master. The trick is, how to keep it serving us and not owning us. Ultimately, the movie doesn’t tell us how to do that, it simply reminds us that we must. The Bible does the same thing in its own way. Not that it speaks to technology exactly, that wasn’t a thing yet, but it does speak to the principles of not letting anything own us. And again, it leaves us with strong exhortations and warnings, but stop short of prescriptives. We are told that we must, but we aren’t clearly told how. Why? I think the “how” ends up looking different for everyone, and when we presume to tell others how they must, we become legalistic and judgmental and all need for faith is removed. Where we can live by formula, we need not live by faith. So here are just a few verses which show God’s heart—wanting us to get maximum enjoyment out of our lives by ensuring that all things are for our benefit and never become our master.
- All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated [other translations say “mastered”] by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
- [The wicked] promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves[g] of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 2 Peter 2:19
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17
- No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13
- He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 5:10
- As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Time travel opens up interesting possibilities for the discussion of destiny. Men return from the future trying to change things, to stop them from coming into being. The future is bleak, computers have taken over and are trying to kill mankind…so mankind travels back into time trying to alter the course of history (or future, as the case may be). The computers would like man to believe there is no hope, that the future is set in stone and no matter how they may try to change it, though the route may vary, the end result will always be the same. Resistance is futile.
Honestly, mankind (in the movie) isn’t entirely sure if resistance is futile or not, but they have to try because there is an innate desire for survival in man. In the end (I believe in the end of every movie in the franchise) man concludes, “One thing we know for certain, the future is not set.”
Biblically speaking, this is true and it’s not true. It is true in a personal sense. The enemy comes to us and tell us it’s futile to resist, we will always be his slave. He is a liar. It may be hard to resist, but it’s not futile. We can overcome him and our fleshly, sinful desires. We can, through the grace and power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, become free. We are not slaves to our past. Our future isn’t certain—especially not in a negatives sense. God says he created us for good works which He prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). We should walk in them. We don’t have to. That is the difference between our Savior and our enemy. The enemy tells us we have no choice, resistance is futile—and what he forces on us is bleak and destructive, like the Terminator future. God, however, offers us a wonderful alternative, but it’s an offering. It’s for us; it’s His plan for us, but it’s an offering, a choice, a gift. He never forces Himself on us. Abusers force themselves and their plans on us. Saviors offer themselves and their help to us.
I said it is true and it isn’t true that the future is not set. It’s not true in the bigger, eternal sense. While our personal destiny is our choice, the future of the world is set—the enemy loses; sin and death are defeated. It’s already done. That victory happened when Jesus rose from the dead. He’s just waiting to establish his reign as King on earth to allow time for everyone on the enemy’s side to change sides. He doesn’t want any of us to perish. This is good news. The future is set, and it’s positive. The good King has already won, and we don’t have to fight against a negative future for the world. Our world’s future is heavenly, literally. What isn’t set for us is which side we choose the winning side or the losing side. The enemy lies to us and tell us that we have no choice and we and the world are all doomed…but he’s a liar. The world is saved and we can be too. Because of Jesus we can echo Kyle’s words, “You’re free. You need to understand that for the first time, you can choose the life you want.”
Questions for Discussion:
- How does technology both free and enslave you?
- How do you work to keep technology (or other things, like money, food, etc.) from becoming your master?
- What things in your life are the hardest for you to keep in control, to keep from taking over? What things are you most tempted to be enslaved by?
- Paul says he makes his body his slave, how does that actually bring freedom to his life?
- Do you tend to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
- Does knowing that God has won the future of the world is set bring you hope? Why or why not?
- Do you struggle to feel like your personal future is doomed, that you have no real choices or future available to you? How do you respond to that?
- Does it bring you hope to know that you can choose sides between the victor, God, and the loser, Satan? Might you feel more optimistic if you knew you were on the winning side?