The New Testament gives us lots of information to help us “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12), but have you ever wondered what we are fighting for? What’s the end goal of this battle? What is God trying to accomplish in this world, and how can we help bring it about?
Whether you think about these questions seriously or just make assumptions, what you believe – consciously or unconsciously – about God and his big plans will affect how you live your life. It also affects how Christians are perceived by the world around us.
In the first few hundred years of its existence, the Christian church was asked what it believed about the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit based on the teachings of the Bible. The Councils of Nicea (325 AD), Chalcedon (451), and Constantinople (681), among others, answered these questions. They determined what was “orthodox” for Christianity (“conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved”) and what was “unorthodox” (“contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted”). Those who did not accept the orthodox doctrine of the church were removed from the church and no longer considered to be “Christian.”
In 1054, a much bigger dispute split the church in two, with both sides claiming to have the true doctrine about Christianity. Several hundred years later, another split occurred, leaving the Roman Catholic Church on one side and several new Protestant denominations on the other. Today there are at least 8 major protestant groups with literally thousands of individual denominations. Add in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and there are a whole lot of people who can’t agree about what is “right or true” about God, the Bible, and Christianity.
Now, back to Captain America for a moment. Is anyone seeing a connection here?
Multiple parties split by different ideas of how to operate, who should be in control, who decides what is good and what is bad.
It was ideologies which split the Avengers apart in Captain America: Civil War. But a good action movie can’t be just about ideologies. You need a villain – an enemy. Who is the enemy in Civil War? Spoiler alert! The enemy was the one guy who didn’t care about any of these things. He just wanted to see the Avengers destroyed. Since he was too weak to destroy them himself, he found a way to get them to fight against each other.
As Christians, we also have an enemy. He’s no weakling. He has “super” abilities because he’s a supernatural being. But he is no match for the One True God, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. And he is no match for the Church, the collection of Jesus’ followers here on the earth who preach his message and live for him. He has many ways to fight against us, but what better strategy is there then to split us up, separate us, and get us to waste time and energy fighting against each other. And what better way is there to show the world that the gospel of Jesus is not true than if the followers of Jesus can’t even agree on what the truth of the gospel is.
So what are we to do?
It begins by being a serious Christian – one who asks, “What do I believe and why do I believe that?” That’s what this blog is all about. I hope you will bear with me as I write one more post on Captain America: Civil War. I also hope you will continue to join me – and encourage your friends and church members to join me – because the enemy is out there, and the world is watching.
* Definitions from: Oxford Dictionary