In the story, it’s been ten years since a man-shaped killing machine (helpfully described as a “cybernetic organism: living tissue over a metal endoskeleton”), played by Arnold Swarzenegger, was sent back through time to “terminate” Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton. Sarah’s offense? Being the future mother of John Connor, who’s going to lead the rebellion in a future war against the machines, after a mysterious neural net-based artificial intelligence group called Skynet accidentally paves a way for its own creation to annihilate humankind.
As Sarah herself explains in the voiceover to Part Two,
Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines.”
But we’re not done yet. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the future John Connor is the one to send the Terminator back, this time to protect Sarah and his own younger self, played by Edward Furlong. Unbeknownst to young John, he’s being tracked down by a new and improved killing machine, the T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick), also sent back from the future with intent to end the rebellion before it begins. This time, the original Terminator, first meant to destroy, is now here to protect. But Sarah, who’s been locked up in a mental institution for trying to warn the world about the war to come, is completely undone at first sight of the leather-clad Schwarzenegger who’s come back to get her—until the killing machine delivers a dual-meaning message sent just for her: “Come with me if you want to live.”
Against all present evidence, against all past experience, against all indications that she's psychologically unhinged, Sarah has exactly an instant to decide—to trust, or not. In the instant, Sarah takes the hand of that which she believed would destroy her. She chooses life.
We might not all face literal life-or-death decisions for Christ, but some of us do. (I did.) Some of us have run headlong, straight into a Terminator collision, trapped with nowhere to turn, caught between a rock and a hard place—certain destruction behind us and terrifying, immobilizing unknown in front of us. We’ve reached for the hand we were certain would be the end of us, and found life.
Yes, some of our stories have been just that dramatic. But now some of our stories are still playing out in a thousand little deaths in the everyday. Some have lived only to face a new nightmare: a life of professing faith while secretly gutted by doubt, fear, and demoralization. The credits have rolled on countless plot lines that suddenly go nowhere, when we’ve pulled away from His help and run right back to the ends of ourselves. In so many nameless ways, we’re living life in a Sarah Connor climax: do we trust, or don’t we? Do we trust the people God has sent to urge us on to life in the full (John 10:10), or are we refusing the hands held out, insisting on a present reality we know doesn’t add up to the whole story He’s written for us?
Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~ Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)
"Come, follow Me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." ~ Matthew 4:19 (BSB)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ~ Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
True spirituality is learning to truly live by the Spirit. This is, after all, the Spirit of life (John 6:63), teaching (John 14:26), and truth (John 16:13). To live in this Spirit means keeping in step with a Spirit of boldness (Acts 4:31), wisdom (Acts 6:10), and encouragement (Acts 9:31). Spirituality means living in the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20) and the Spirit of the Lord (Luke 4:18).
This is transcendent living marked by intimate affection and reverent awe. This is a life lived fully aware of dual realities, intentionally present and eternally glorified (John 17:15), worked out through the practical care of the one for the others. True spirituality is marked by the patience and compassion of one who knows the victory is already won, bearing with the temporary in mind of the forever.
This is the patience and compassion shown to us by a Savior who comes to us in humility and submission, walking alongside us to bring us into a better way. This is love: not that we had a clue, but that the Lord knows everything... and loves us anyway. Love wants the wellbeing of the loved one; love is building up and encouraging and saying, Come with me...
True spirituality is true love—the kind of love that submits to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21); the kind of love that gives up the self (John 3:16) and lays down one’s life for another (1 John 3:16).
“Let us keep in step with the Spirit.” That sounds hard—maybe impossible. We’re already struggling to keep up with life as it is. But the life “laid down” is Christ in the lives of Christ followers. That's the power of a life turned over to the Spirit who lives in us.
The life laid down is witnessed profoundly in the simplest of gestures—not that we all go volunteering for overseas missions or lining up to get martyred, but that we’re willing to be interrupted in the day-to-day complications of our self-absorbed little lives. It’s when we’re joyfully inconvenienced, valuing the moments no one values, energized by opportunities to give attention; when we stop looking over each other’s heads and stop looking for the first excuse to leave or change the subject. It’s when we view problems as opportunities to step out in faith and trust God to put the next step under us before we fall on our faces. It’s when we ask for the courage to change the things we can—and then do something with it.
It’s when concerns are heard, slights are covered over, names are remembered, invitations are accepted; when we’re caring about people because they’re people, not because there’s anything we can get out of them. It’s when smartphones are set aside, when eye contact is made, when questions are asked, when the conversation at the dinner table is more important than getting through dinner to get on to the next thing, when turning to another person is more important than turning on the TV. It’s letting someone else have the parking spot, asking about someone else’s important event, celebrating the other person’s hard work, showing up when we don’t feel like it, confessing and praying together, dropping the acts, being willing to be uncomfortable, rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
We have to set our own minds on things above and not on the earthly things (Colossians 3:2). We have to be rigorously pursuing God in our own lives, not grumbling about all the people who aren’t pursuing Him in theirs. We’re entrusted to be wise multipliers of the talents distributed individually by our Master according to our ability (Matthew 25:14-30), not to bury our heads in the sand, afraid to do anything at all with the gifts He’s given.
It isn’t until we see something different that we can see which way is better. The life lived by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit, is a life of boldness, wisdom, and encouragement. It’s a life of love and reverence. It’s a life that holds out the hand and says, “Come with me” and gives the world a glimpse of Jesus. If we want to foster the lifestyle, we’ve got to stop just hearing the Word and start doing what it says (James 1:22). We’ve got to have the nerve to start living victoriously, and the patience to let other people see it can be done.
If we believe in God, then God’s Word says to each of us we are “more than conquerors” through Christ (Romans 8:37). So who do we think knows more about us—us, or God? Will we take the hand in front of us and step into the scary unknown of life by the Spirit, or will we lie here on the floor and let death overtake us? “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Come with me if you want to live.
How is it with your soul?