"Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?" - The Doctor
This one "Doctor Who" quote has radically altered my perceptions of God for the better.
You see, it is one thing to talk about unconditional love and unequivocal forgiveness in a Bible study or to see it written in Scripture, but it is quite another thing to see it in action and to have it presented to you in a way that, honestly, catches you off guard. "Doctor Who" is not exactly known for being afraid of tackling spiritual issues on the show — albeit in an often less-than-Christian way — but this one quote in this one episode made me take a step back and really think.
Some backstory for you non-Whovians: this quote popped up in a very dramatic episode riddled with plot twists and grief. At the very beginning, one of the companions, Clara, lost her boyfriend, Danny Pink, in a car accident. This made her go a wee bit crazy, and she snapped in a frantic attempt to convince the Doctor to go back in time and stop him from dying (He's a time-traveler — he can do that sort of thing). So she devises this plan to go into the TARDIS and steal all the keys, drug the Doctor, fly him to a volcano and force him to save Danny by threatening to destroy all the keys in the lava. It was pretty intense.
After a bit, Clara destroys most of the TARDIS keys and is at her breaking point. At this point, she throws the last key in and breaks down crying, regretting what she did. Then, in yet another plot twist, the Doctor reveals that she had been dreaming this the whole time and they go back into the TARDIS.
However, the damage had already been done. She had already betrayed the Doctor in a craze of grief-infused panic.
But this is where the really miraculous part happens: the Doctor decides to help Clara try to save Danny anyway. She is completely distraught and confused. Why would he help her now? She had just betrayed him, destroyed all the trust he had in her, attacked the thing he loved and valued the most. Why should he take her back?
Well, this is where the quote comes into play.
This is where the miracle happens.
You see, it would be completely reasonable for the Doctor to kick her out of the TARDIS and refuse to see her again. It would be completely justified. In fact, this is exactly what Clara is expecting from him. But that is not what she gets.
Sure, the Doctor is angry and betrayed, but he does not abandon her or cut her out of his life. He does not lash out at her in anger like she did him.
Instead, he responds with what can only be considered Biblical grace.
The concept of Biblical grace — the very grace that God extends to us — is contrary to what people naturally expect. And that is what makes it so beautiful. Because God is not like us in every way. We sin. He doesn't. We are petty and vengeful. He is just and righteous. We are fleeting and fallible, and He is constant and perfectly faithful and reliable. We break. He never does.
So, sometimes, when we say that we are made in God's image, we can take that and use it to get a wrong view of God. We assume that God operates on the same rationale as we do and responds in the same ways that we do. But, in many ways, that is simply not true. Because we are broken and He is whole.
We, in the heat of the moment, when the people we love turn on us and betray us in the most gruesome way, naturally want to get revenge and give the other person what they deserve. They betrayed us, so the equal, just and logical response to this is to cut them off. That is the definition of what justice is.
But that is not what we get when we betray God. And that is not what Clara got when she betrayed the Doctor.
You see, this quote awakened within me a recognition of what God meant when He said that He will forgive us of our sins and restore us as true sons and daughters. He is extending Grace to us. And this Grace — this unwarranted and undeserved forgiveness, kindness and redemption — is the exact opposite of justice.
Justice throws the stone. Grace picks us up off the ground.
You see, in my life, I have done enough things to warrant me a first-class ticket to Hell. That is what I have earned as a sinner. But that is not what I have been given.I have been given full and complete redemption through the power of His salvation. I have been forgiven. And even more than that, I have been redeemed.
And this Grace — the most beautiful and awe-inspiring gift to have ever been given — was not given to me because I somehow earned it. No. This gift of Grace was given to me because God's capacity to love is infinitely stronger than my capacity to sin. His forgiveness is stronger than my rebellion.
This quote by the Doctor gave me, for one instant, a glimpse into what true Grace looks like. (See the scene below.)
Because the power of God's love for me is no match for the sin I commit against Him.
No matter how many times and in how many ways we sin against Him — no matter how much we try and hurt Him — He will always love us just the same.
Because He is God. And that is Grace.
And I can't think of anything more comforting and awe-inspiring than that — to know that God loves me and will never, ever stop.
And that fact alone is enough to wipe away any fear I may have had within me.