Beating the Kobayashi Maru

If you’re not a Star Trek fan, you probably don’t catch the reference. If that’s the case, bear with me as I explain what the Kobayashi Maru is with respect to Star Trek lore. Starfleet Academy (think the US Naval Academy of the future) had a training scenario where a ship, called the Kobayashi Maru, would become disabled in neutral space. Neutral space as in space like the demilitarized zone we have in between the two Koreas right now. A military ship crossing into that space was grounds for the other side to attack. Which is just how the scenario was rigged. A young potential Starfleet officer was faced with going into the neutral zone in an attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru and facing the possibility of angering the other side, giving them an opening to attack. Or the person had the option of not rescuing the Kobayashi Maru, allowing hundreds of people to die. If a candidate follows the first option, the game was set up so that the enemy would come hard and fast and there was nothing the candidate could do to beat ’em, because the computer would just throw more and more at the candidate. In other words, it was a no win situation. The scenario wasn’t designed to be won. It was designed to test the character of a future officer in a no win situation.

But one particular Starfleet Academy cadet, a strapping young lad named James Tiberius Kirk, had faced the Kobayashi Maru scenario twice and lost both times (understandably, because that’s all you could do). He was up to face it a third time and he did something no one considered. Before his turn in the scenario, he went and reprogrammed the computer, so that he was able to rescue the Koabayashi Maru and get his own ship out of harm’s way. In other words, he changed the game. Rather than being punished for cheating, he was praised for his ingenuity. There’s a lesson here for the Church.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20, NIV

This is a familiar passage. It’s often quoted for missions. And it’s used when we talk about evangelism (which is my point today). But it’s not the only set of Scriptures worded that way. There is this one from Acts:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8, NIV

While we’re in Acts, let’s look at what Peter and John were up to day after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer at three in the afternoon. – Acts 3:1, NIV

Jesus said go into all the world. Before the day of Pentecost He tells the disciples that they will be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” In Acts 3 we see Peter and John heading to the temple. And along the way a beggar is healed and they are able to preach at the temple. This repetition is no coincidence. God intends for us to go out into the world and share His Gospel. Notice I didn’t say wait for the world to come to us. I didn’t say that because that wouldn’t fit Scripture.

But for many believers, this is what we practice. We wait for the people to meet us, not going out and meeting people. In other words, we generally don’t go out and find people to share the Gospel with. Rather, we wait for the people to come through their door. Churches as a whole are guilty of this, too. We keep looking for the new thing that will bring the lost into our building. We’re looking for programs. We’re looking for attractions. We’re looking to complete with the world at its own game. For instance, I’ve heard of churches holding “Halo parties” to attract youth. Halo? The X-Box game Halo? The latest incarnation of Halo is a first person shooter rated M for Mature because of blood & gore, bad language, and violence? That’s how we pull people into the church? Are we serious?

We’re trying to out glitter and out glamour the world. That’s the game we’re playing. We can’t win, because the world doesn’t have restrictions. We do. The world will do what the Bible says is a sin. We don’t have that option. This is a game which we’re handicapped and the world is going to beat us every time. This is the Church’s Kobayashi Maru.

It’s time to change the game. If we can’t win the game the world is playing, we need to change it so we can win, just like Kirk did. Only we don’t have to resort to something so underhanded as reprogramming the game. We simply start playing a different game. That game is known as Go. Not Go like the Japanese board game, but Go as in Go and make disciples… We’re supposed to be out in the world sharing the Gospel, not waiting for people to stroll in to the morning service of our local church, hoping they’ll get saved that way. We’re supposed to be the initiators, the leaders, the ones attempting to build relationships and reveal Christ crucified.

It’s time we as a Church stopped trying to win a no win situation. But it’s not time to pack it in and call it quits. It’s time to change the game. It’s time to play a new game. And in that game we go out into the lost and dying world and we share the Gospel. We don’t try and dress up our churches in hopes that the lost will show up. We simply meet peope and we introduce them to the greatest gift of all. And we meet them wherever they are. That’s something to find joy in. May this week be filled with opportunities for you to share the greatest gift ever.


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