The x filesThe last season of the X-Files has just begun its run on broadcast television in Malaysia. As a poor X-File fan who cannot afford cable TV this was my chance to catch the last season of one of my favourite TV series.

The opening two parter was ok. But clearly the life had gone out of the series. The series had begun to go downhill when it moved its shooting base from Vancouver to Los Angeles. It lost its life when David Duchovny took a long break from the series.

One of the things that made the X-Files special was the relationship between the two main protagonists — agents Mulder and Scully. Here were two people who had diametrically different approaches to life and truth. Agent Scully was totally committed to the scientific method. There was nothing outside what could be proven and tested by science. Agent Mulder was sold out to the paranormal, totally committed to the belief that there were dimensions of reality outside what could be proven by science. You would expect such a partnership to be fraught with tension. The truth may indeed be out there but how do you search for that truth if you can’t even agree on what truth is.

However, as the series unfolded, we saw Scully and Mulder develop a very strong personal relationship. Because of their different presuppositions they often disagreed on procedures and findings but they cared for each other passionately. This relationship, platonic for most of the series, was marked by a high degree of mutual respect and sacrificial care.

This strong bond between the two agents struck a chord in me. It seemed too unreal. So much of real life is adversarial. We tend to demonize and dismiss those different from us. This was TV fantasy of course but here were two people who were so different yet who truly cared for each other. As a result they learned much from each other.

This impossible relationship reminded me of other impossible relationships. Like Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector (Matthew 10: 2-4). The Zealots were the holy terrorists of the day not beyond stabbing a Roman legionnaire or two in their passion to get rid of the pagan empire occupying the Holy Land. And tax collectors? They were collaborators who had sold out their God and their people for filthy lucre. I wondered if Simon had the lives of any tax collectors notched on the handle of his dagger.

Matthew and Simon were natural enemies. Yet we find them in one of the most intimate groups in the bible. They were both in the Jesus’ original group of twelve disciples.

I doubted their natural animosity would have just disappeared overnight. I wondered how long it took them before they began to accept one another. To trust one another. To be friends. To begin to learn from one another. I am sure it took time. In the three years that they followed Jesus and realised that here was a Truth greater than their personal agendas.

I think of all the animosity out on the world. I think of all the animosity in our churches. I am saddened. I am saddened at the pain and hurts that come from all the anger and suspicions. I am saddened by the waste of it all. Instead of being adversaries we could be partners for the good of all.

This past weekend I met an old friend whom I had not seen for more than a decade. He had heard about some of the things that had happened in my life. I wondered how he would receive me. He said ‘a friend is a friend. And friends stick by each other’. I was deeply touched. I remembered that when we first met we really rubbed each other the wrong way. We would confront each other at meetings and continue these heated confrontations over the phone long after the meetings were over. This continued for months. The one thing we didn’t do was write each other off. And one day something strange happened. We became the best of friends. And found that we were much more effective side by side than at each other’s throats.

As I look back over my life this intriguing relationship stands out because it gives me hope that ‘natural adversaries’ who are followers of Jesus Christ can become friends and co-workers. This intriguing relationship also stands out because I wish it had happened more often.

In the meantime I go back to my X-Files. The last season is ok. But its not quite the X-Files I knew. It no longer features Agents Mulder and Scully (although Duchovney returns for a few episodes towards the end). It’s just not the same without them. They are my poster guys for how people who are very different can truly love and care for each other.

Of course Mulder and Scully live in the world of TV fantasy. But there is a Truth that is out there. And the degree that we are able to walk together with people who are different from us is a good indicator of how close we are walking with the Truth.