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“I am also a we”

If ever there was a TV show made for millenials it’s the one I’ve been (re)watching this week. Sense8, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski and available on Netflix is unlike anything else I’ve ever watched. (In case you’re thinking ‘Oh, so Dave hasn’t blogged in ages and now Limping into Truth is a TV review site, don’t worry—I’ll get to the point!)

Sense8 follows the story of 8 individuals spread across the globe who have awakened within them a psychic link meaning they can speak with one another and ‘visit’ one another, sharing both knowledge and abilities. When the matutu driver in Nairobi finds himself on the wrong side of some drug lords, the skills borrowed from the Korean business women who competes in Seoul’s underground fight clubs come in handy. When the German gangster finds himself needing to lie convincingly to get out of trouble, the skills of the Mexican movie heartthrob do just the trick.

Ok, so those examples make it sound a bit silly. But it is truly brilliant the way the stories evolve and intertwine, and as the relationships get stronger, the connections become less and less superficial. (I should also say that Sense8 does nothing to buck the trend of increasingly graphic sexual and violent content on TV—it has both in spades, which I find sad, so be warned before you see this as an unqualified recommendation.)

No longer just ‘I’

So why, overall, do I like Sense8? And why am I writing about it on my blog? One of the episode titles sums that up pretty well: “I am also a we”. I found those words beautiful. 8 strangers, separated in geography, background, worldview, separated in pretty much every way possible, and yet they area able to function not as eight people who say ‘I’ but one body who say ‘we’. The uses that is put to in the TV show range from things I can get behind to things I’m not so sure about, but the principle under it all is about being stronger because we are united.

That’s why I say it’s a show for millenials. This generation that puts so much stock in community, in celebrating diversity and embracing it within our unity. There are people who are threatened by that kind of unity and try to thwart them, but their unity is enough to overcome any struggles. It’s a beautiful picture. And they can learn from one another because they are different. Who knew that the problems faced by a young Hindu woman facing pressures from her family to marry could be helped by the perspective of a Chicago cop and a German gangster? But apparently they can.

I have a suspicion that in generations past, this kind of story would not have worked. This increased awareness of others’ cultures (made possible because of the internet, and because travel is easier than ever) has shaped the mindset of my generation. And it’s an amazing thing—we are no longer just ‘I’!

The greatest ‘we’

But here’s the thing it’s driven me back to. This message isn’t new and this idea shouldn’t take the internet or travel or a TV show to capture the minds of a generation. The church should.

What was it I said? No longer eight people who say ‘I’ but one body who say ‘we’? What about people from every tribe and nation and language and continent and country and generation and period of history who no longer say ‘I’ but instead stand as one body and say ‘we’?

People sharing the experiences and the worldview shaped by their background and culture so that others can benefit?

People who have different gifts and skills and abilities, using them not because it will help them but because it will help their brother or sister?

People drawn together not by an unexplained psychic link but by the historical events of the death and resurrection of the Son of God who stepped out of His realm and into ours?

People united by a common purpose, not just to protect ourselves but to see God’s kingdom come and transform everything?

‘Church’ has become a negative word in our world. But what I’ve just described is what the church is called to be—stronger together, inviting, enticing, part of something bigger than you.

If we can show the world that being part of the Church of Christ is about the greatest declaration ever of “I am also a we” then we have a chance of showing them that Jesus really is who He says He is, and that He really is alive.

And I’m pretty sure I’m right, because that’s exactly what Jesus prayed for us too…

“…they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)

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  • Darrel Hofland

    Good to read a post of yours again, Dave.