When many hear of Frankenstein, they probably imagine a moss-green, square-headed, and barely articulate monster with bolts coming out of his head. This, no doubt, is inspired by the famous movie by the same name, but, ironically, has very little to do with Mary Shelley’s original novel. For example, Frankenstein is not even the creature’s name—it is the name of the person who created him. He is actually never named though his creator refers to him as the monster along with many other descriptive, and hateful, adjectives.
Interestingly enough, this story focuses a lot on the rejection of the monster by his creator. But it doesn’t start off this way—initially we are caught up in Victor Frankenstein’s journey of knowledge where he, in a strange twist of fate, learns the secret of animating dead flesh. In his zeal, he toils night and day to create his masterpiece only to be horrified by the sight of it once alive. He runs away leaving the creature to fend for itself. Many chapters later, Victor encounters his hated beast after realizing that the monster is stalking and killing those Victor loves. Victor first sees him as he climbs the mountains looking for a refuge for his grief.
As I said this I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled; a mist came over my eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me, but I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I perceived, as the shape came nearer (sight tremendous and abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with rage and horror, resolving to wait his approach and then close with him in mortal combat. He approached; his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this; rage and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of furious detestation and contempt. (Shelley 113)
What happens next is completely surprising. The monster asks permission to tell his story—a story of a creature abandoned and afraid, desperately seeking the one to whom he belonged. And he does all this with an eloquence that is shocking and compelling. But, in the end, Victor rejects this reach for relationship even to his last breath. The monster, in his grief, sacrifices himself to the waves after he has been rejected time and time again.
It’s easy for us to imagine the ferocity of a created being seeking reconciliation with his creator—particularly when rejection seems to be the m.o. A similar theme is seen in the horror movie Prometheus (prequel to Alien) where scientists locate the planet they think the creators of humans inhabit. The excitement turns to horror, however, when they discover this alien race actually despises them and hopes to destroy them. The final scene of the film is of the one lone survivor still intending to seek out these creator aliens to find the answers for their creation, much like the monster in Frankenstein seeks out his maker.
In Shatner’s 1989 Star Trek: The Final Frontier, Sybock, Spock’s half-brother, is on a mission to find God. After a perilous journey, the characters believe they have finally arrived only to find, after almost being tricked, an alien form who is trying to manipulate them for his own good. Sybock, realizing his mistake, sacrifices himself, so the crew can get away.
In both Star Trek and Frankenstein, we see the humans sacrificing themselves for others. But, in the Bible, we see God sacrificing Himself for us. These works of art can only imagine a “God” who is powerful, but not one who loves or desires our love.
John Eldredege, in his novel communicates what he believe is the true picture of God:
… I am convinced beyond a doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone. How could we have missed this? From cover to cover, from beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart is, “Why won’t you choose Me?” It is amazing to me how humble, how vulnerable God is on this point. “You will . . . find me,” says the Lord, “when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). In other words, “Look for me, pursue me — I want you to pursue me.” Amazing. As Tozer says, ‘God waits to be wanted.’ (38)
When we encounter Jesus in Scriptures, we see a God who pursues, but in a way that seems confusing. He isn’t the “God” that people expect, and the people (particularly the Pharisees) reject Him. Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of the paralyzed man whose friends lower him down through the roof to lay him before Jesus. In this situation, it is the perseverance of the man’s friends, and not the man himself that lands him in this fortuitous location. A moment of surprise comes though when instead of the expected healing, Jesus says, “You’re sins are forgiven.”
There’s no doubt that Jesus’s statement causes a furor of emotions in the crowd particularly those angered by his blasphemy or disappointed by his lack of healing, but what this paralyzed man is feeling is the big question. Does he look into the penetrating gaze of Jesus and recognize that his greatest need isn’t physical? Does he rejoice inwardly when Jesus says those unexpected words? I like to think so since the trend of recorded healings seems to suggest the miracle would have been impossible if he hadn’t believed, if he hadn’t seen who Jesus really was and the depth of what he offered. And the offer was first not a physical healing but an invitation to be in a relationship with a holy God.
In a crowd of people expecting miracles he performs the miracle no one can see—changing a heart. We too can be tempted to seek God in these outward external ways and ignore the invitation to go further in. And in this scripture we get to see both responses – the ones thinking they are seeking God but who ultimately reject Him, and the man who initially doesn’t get what he wants but finds so much more.
Unlike the characters mentioned before, we should be honest with ourselves that we aren’t so good at going to the ends of the world to seek God out, no matter how favorably we might view ourselves or our efforts. God is often surprising and He’s definitely wild, so more often than not we might find ourselves standing dumbly wondering who this God is that we seek. The good news is, however, that we are not like those who seek and do not find. Instead we are those who have been invited, even pursued to join the feast. It’s an offer too beautiful to believe, it seems, but it is the truth. Things might not unfold the way we expect, but we can be assured that the reception is beyond what we can conceive.
So while our creative impulse is to deny that such a Creator could exist, we must challenge ourselves to contemplate if we are really considering the offer being made. Will we still seek God when He offers us a spiritual answer for a physical need? We may look with derision upon the Pharisees of Jesus’s time, but I wonder if we too sidestep God’s invitation to relationship and instead embrace the expected only.