I am a big fan of movies, but there are some genres I don’t care for. Horror is at the top of that list. I don’t like anything with ghosts, demons, monsters, creepy aliens, or oversized-sharks. So, I have a hard time explaining how I became a fan of the Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Stranger Things has a TV-14 rating based on language, some sexuality, and, most of all, some very scary monsters. I wouldn’t recommend it for pre-teens, even though many of the lead actors in the show were under age 14 when the show started in 2016.
The third season hit Netflix on July 4. Watching it, I still have to close my eyes or hit fast-forward during some of the gorier parts. But I don’t watch it for the gory parts. I watch it for the characters. In any genre of story-telling, my favorite characters have always been ordinary folk who step up and become heroes during extraordinary circumstances. Stranger Things is all about people like that.
There is something else I like about this show, something you only get from fantasy, science-fiction, or horror shows. It provides a visual allegory for the battle between good and evil being fought on a spiritual level. In Stranger Things, the monsters come from another dimension—the “upside down”—after a “gate” is opened between their dimension and ours. In our world, we are also called to do battle against enemies who are not like us.
The Bible tells us, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We don’t fight these enemies with ordinary weapons but with special armor God provides—truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer (Ephesians 6:13-18). Learning how to use this armor takes time and practice, but with our armor in place we can heroically stand up against our enemy and make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of everyone around us.
I’ve noticed another similarity between Stranger Things and the real spiritual battles we face. Although the stakes are high in each season of the show, the characters who know about the monsters are reluctant to tell anyone else what they know. In season one, a mother “knows” her missing son is near, but her knowledge is based on flickering lights, strange sounds, and something that seems to be alive inside the walls of her house. How can she explain that to anyone without sounding crazy? Who would take her seriously?
It can be difficult for Christians, as well, to talk about spiritual things with people who don’t believe in God or the Bible. Even some Christians think the Bible’s stories about Satan and demons aren’t meant to be read literally or those supernatural beings aren’t active in the world today. So when we’re struggling with fear, depression, doubts, and anxiety, we may not consider addressing them as spiritual issues. When we watch our neighborhoods and nations spiral out of control with violence, bigotry, and immoral behavior becoming the new normal, we may not think to put on our spiritual armor and march into battle.
Even if we recognize supernatural forces at work, we may not know what we should do about it. I think it starts with getting a good grip on what we believe about God and his intentions for this world. Then we need to take up our armor and learn how to use it. There are many good Christian books to help with both these goals. I wrote one on the Armor of God which I’ll be re-releasing in August. If you would like to join my email list to receive updates on the re-release of Standing Firm: Are You Ready for the Battle? just use the link below. You will also receive a free excerpt from chapter one of my upcoming book, Finding Your Part in God’s Master Story.
In the meantime, read through Ephesians 6:10-20 and think about how you can use the Word of God and prayer to stand up to the enemy in your life.
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I read an alarming statistic this morning. In a 2012 survey, only 19% of 17 year-olds said they read for fun every day, down from 31% in 1984. Almost half of the 17 year-olds surveyed (45%) said they read for pleasure no more than once or twice a year. Another 22% said they never or hardly ever read for fun. With the increase of social media outlets and the pressure to be online all the time, I’m sure those numbers are even worse today.
There’s a growing effort to combat this decline in reading, including special days to focus on books. August 9 was National Book Lovers Day. July 30 was Paperback Book Day. April 23 was World Book Day. And many people celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2 by reading to children. But still, the decline in reading continues while young people spend more and more time staring at a screen.
Which screens are they staring at? Mostly, their phones. Students today tend to prefer short YouTube videos over traditional television shows. They’re going to movies less often, too, with “loss of youth” being the number one concern for European film owners in a survey last year. Considering the glut of violent, crass, immoral, and just plain stupid shows on TV and movie screens, the move away from such “entertainment” may seem like a good idea. But I’m afraid our young people are losing something very important as they trade in books, movies, and TV shows for 5 minute videos, 30 second SnapChats, and long feeds of photos and tweets pretending to represent real life.
I believe we have a need for stories in our lives—fictional stories about make-believe people and places or fictionalized biographies of real people dealing with real-life situations. We read stories to learn about other cultures and peoples and to explore the deeper themes of life and living. We use stories to entertain, but also to teach and impart wisdom. Jesus loved stories, using dozens of short parables to teach moral and spiritual lessons.
In a world of random, relentless sensory input, stories help us find connections, see order, and wait expectantly for what’s still to come.
The great thing about stories is that they have an author, someone who has given time and attention to creating the perfect setting and bringing together the right mix of characters who each have a part to play as the story unfolds. The King James Version of the Bible calls Jesus “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). And the Psalmist sang to God, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139.16).
In a book, everything is connected and purposeful. In a good story, all the action moves toward a fitting ending. There is hope in every story that all will work out well in the end, even if not all stories end well. We need that hope in our real lives as well. We need to recognize that we are part of a bigger story and there is so much still to come!
So read! Read to your children. Watch movies together. Discuss the story line and the characters and the choices the author made. Don’t wait for a special day to dive into a new story. Do it today!
If you would like to learn more about how stories help us understand what God is doing in our world, sign up for my email list to get updates on my next book, Finding Your Place in God’s Master Story. You can also visit my Facebook page and share what story you’ve been reading or watching lately that you would like to recommend -- https://www.facebook.com/janetruthbooks/
Over the weekend, I went to see the latest Marvel superhero movie, Ant Man and the Wasp. It was entertaining and funny, with lots of special effects as the two main characters (Ant Man and the Wasp) keep changing from human to insect-size and back again in the midst of hand-to-hand fights and wild car chases. Ant Man’s suit also allows him to grow very large or to shrink beyond the view of any microscope into the “quantum realm” – an important plot point in this movie.
To really up the thrill factor, the good guys in the film have more than one bad guy coming after them. One is a ruthless businessman with his armed thugs, after “quantum” technology he can sell to the highest bidder. The other is a mysterious matter-phasing “ghost” woman who wants the technology for her own needs. The Wasp and her father, who have the technology, have to hold onto it long enough to enter the quantum realm and find the Wasp’s long-lost mother (the original Wasp, who shrunk down too far to come back while rescuing thousands of people from an incoming missile many years earlier).
If you forget about the questionable science and focus on the action, it’s not a hard movie to follow. Like most superhero movies, it’s also easy to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys—and what will happen to them in the end. The good guys will win. The bad guys will lose. And the people in between? Well, they might just get a second chance.
Isn’t that why we like superhero movies? If you use your powers for good and care about other people and try to do the right thing most of the time, things should work out your way. If you care only about yourself and don’t mind hurting other people to get what you want, you will be punished. But, what if there’s an excuse for your bad behavior? What if it’s not really your fault that you became the person you are? Do you deserve a break? Do you deserve to be saved?
This, of course, is the real problem with superhero movies—and with the way most humans think. We try to earn our way to happiness, to deserve good breaks, to be good enough to be counted among the winners. And when we fail, we look for excuses. We say, “It’s not my fault. I can’t help being the way I am. Shouldn’t I get a break, too?”
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “there is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). There isn’t one person in the whole world who has been good enough to earn the blessing of the holy and perfect God. But there also isn’t one person in the whole world who hasn’t been given a second chance. God offers us his forgiveness and a place in his family, not because of what we have done or not done, but because of his grace and love.
Too often Christians fall into the trap of separating people into the camps of good guys and bad guys. We’re willing to help the good guys. We’re even willing to help people who are the victims of their circumstances, people who have an excuse for not being as good as they could be. But the bad guys are simply bad guys, and they deserve nothing but God’s wrath.
Perhaps we need to change that way of thinking. Perhaps we should remember that we were once “God’s enemies” but that “we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). That’s the only thing that separates us from the bad guys out there. So, shouldn’t we be more understanding—and more gracious? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with sharing the good news of God’s grace and spend less time vilifying people who don’t agree with us?
There are a lot of “people in between” out there just waiting for someone to invite them into the camp of the forgiven. Get out there, superheroes, and give them that chance!
Even though my kids are both grown, we thought it would be fun for the whole family to go see Incredibles II for Fathers’ Day. The story picks up right where the original Incredibles movie ended, which I think was a great idea. In the original movie, the Parr family had grappled with living with powers that other people didn’t have. Some people loved the “Supers” and thought they did much to make the world a better place. Others feared them because they were different or blamed them for the damage done while they were trying to stop bad people from doing bad things. At some point, using super powers had become illegal, and the Parr family was forced to hide who they really were.
In the new movie, using super powers is still illegal. Bob and Helen Parr (aka Mr. and Mrs. Incredible) are trying to find a balance between helping others, obeying laws they don’t agree with, and protecting their family. It’s not an easy task when their teenage daughter, Violet, is trying to fit in at school, their pre-teen son, Dash, is a barely controllable ball of energy, and their baby, Jack-Jack, is … well that’s hard to explain without seeing the movie, but even a normal baby requires a lot of attention. When Helen is offered a chance to come back into the light and use her super powers to try to convince people to change the “anti-Supers” laws, the family dynamics become even crazier.
In the United States today, some people fear there may soon be “anti-Christian” laws. In fact, laws in some states which protect the rights of homosexual and transgender individuals are already being used to try and silence Christians who disagree with them. As the Supreme Court reminded us earlier this month, the times are changing and laws which affect Christian speech and actions are changing with them. The time may come—much sooner than we imagine—when Christians everywhere will have to choose between obeying the laws and living according to their faith.
In Incredibles II, Helen Parr has no desire to break the law unless doing so would serve a higher purpose. In the first movie, she was willing to “suit up” to save her husband’s life. In this second movie, she “suits up” to be an advocate for changing laws she believes are unfair and not in anyone’s best interests.
As Christians, we should also respect the law of the land as much as we can. The Bible tells us, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1a). But it also says, “the one in authority is God’s servant for your good,” and “rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” (Romans 13:3-4). So what do we do when the rules favor those who do wrong in God’s eyes and punish those who do right?
Like the Parr family, we may have some tough decisions to make about how to live in a society that fears and marginalizes us because of our beliefs. However, there’s one important lesson we can learn from the “supers,” and that is to MINIMIZE THE COLATERAL DAMAGE. Fighting bad guys can be messy, and people can get hurt. Fighting sin can be messy, too. If we try to win our battles at any cost, a lot of people who don’t understand what we’re doing will be hurt. Instead of seeing the good we’re trying to do in the world, all they will see is the damage.
So the next time you “suit up” to fight for something you believe in, ask yourself what kind of damage you might do in the minds and hearts of people who need to make a decision about following Jesus. What is the good you are trying to achieve? What is the harm you might cause?
The world needs us. It needs our core values. But mostly, people need Jesus. Remember that the next time you “suit up.”
Spider-Man swung into theaters last weekend to rave reviews and big box-office numbers. I have a thing for superhero movies (if they aren’t too dark or just plain weird), so I went with my family to see it. It was a fun movie, with lots of humor and just enough danger to make me gasp a few times.
This movie joins Peter Parker after he’s already been introduced to the Marvel Universe of movies as Spider-Man. He’s a smart, somewhat awkward, high school student with super strength and the ability to hang onto walls, ceilings, and other surfaces like—you guessed it—a spider. His origin story (how he got this way) is skipped over except for one short discussion with his buddy about getting bitten by a spider. You have to watch the older Spider-Man movies, or read the comics, to get the whole story about secret experiments, radioactive spiders, and genetic mutations.
Although we don’t see Peter become Spider-Man, we do see him continue to grapple with the big question: what do I do with this power now? The villains in the story come across a different kind of power—high-tech alien weaponry and power sources—and they use it for themselves, making money to take care of families or just for the rush of blowing things up. Peter wants to use his power for others—to help people who are in danger or just being taken advantage of.
All over the world, I’m sure people were leaving theaters debating what kind of superpower they would like to have and what they would do with it. Most of the answers were probably pretty self-centered. Some might want to have super strength so they could get back at the bullies who tormented them in school. Others might want to read minds so they could embarrass people or blackmail them. My husband might like the power of teleportation so he could go on a business trip without 4-hour delay at the airport. Sometimes I wish I had super speed, so I could whish through my housework and computer work and still have time to relax at the end of the day knowing everything is done.
As Christians, we often forget that we have been given something much greater than any of the superhero superpowers. We’ve been given life eternal, a relationship with a loving God, peace in troubled times, and hope for the future. We can focus on ourselves, as many Christians do, asking for God to bless us, to take care of our families, to protect our rights and privileges. Or we can focus our gifts on others, the way Jesus did, and bring light into a dark world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:14-16
So “hero up” and think of ways you can use your gifts to help others this week.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m a bit of a nerd. I like books and movies, and my favorites tend to have some kind of fantasy or science fiction element. Or they should at least take place in the past and have interesting costumes or settings and characters with accents. Some movies are enjoyed best on the big screen, and I’ve been known to go to the theater to see a movie a second time—or a third.
Yesterday, I went to see Wonder Woman again with my daughter. I liked the adventure, the costumes, and the settings, but mostly I enjoyed the story. I wrote about it in a post a few weeks ago, but I knew there was more about the story than I had touched on. In fact, there is one important aspect to the story I don’t want to pass over. So, I am writing a second post on Wonder Woman (and not only so I can justify seeing the movie again).
I think it would be difficult for any Christian watching this movie to miss the parallels to the story of Jesus. Diana, Princess of the Amazons, is the daughter of Zeus and the Amazonian queen—a union of god and mortal. Jesus is the Son of God but born of Mary—a union of man and God. Diana was brought into the world to end the reign of evil instigated by Aries, the god of war. Jesus was sent into the world to destroy the power of sin instigated by Satan, an angelic being. And if those similarities weren’t obvious enough, Diana even strikes a pose at the climax of the movie where she takes the full brunt of Aries’ attack and hangs in the air with her arms outstretched, making the form of a cross.
Diana wins against Aries. Jesus won against Satan. And all is good and right in the end. –Or not.
The point the Wonder Woman movie takes pains to make is that Diana’s victory is a hollow one. She can finally see that all the evil in the world is not a direct result of Aries’ meddling, and it won’t stop just because Aries has been defeated. Every human has both light and dark within them, and they can choose to act either for good or bad. As Diana muses at the end, that’s something no hero can fix.
Many people in our society have drawn a similar conclusion about Jesus. He came, he died, he left, and sin and evil continue. It seems as if whatever it is that ails humanity is something no hero—no god—and no Savior can fix.
It is this kind of thinking which has driven so many people today into the arms of humanism (the idea that humanity must depend on itself to find a way out of its own troubles), scientism (a commitment to the advancement of knowledge to solve our troubles), or nihilism (the abandonment of hope that our problems can be solved). What they fail to see is the HOPE that only Jesus offers.
The story of Jesus—the story of the whole Bible—is that a Savior can fix what ails us.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
It’s true that no demigod, caped crusader, man of steel, or mighty avenger is going to save the human race. And humanity isn’t going to save itself. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Another superhero movie hit theaters last weekend to usher in the summer blockbusters. This one is noteworthy for being the first superhero movie to feature a woman. It’s also the first of the genre to be directed by a woman. There’s plenty of action though, with enough shooting, sword-fighting, and explosions to satisfy anyone who loves a super-sized smack-down.
Like all the superhero movies, this one involves a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” with Chris Pine’s character actually using those terms to help Diana, the Amazonian princess, understand what’s going on as she encounters mortal humans for the first time.
The film also provides the “origin story” of Wonder Woman, much like the many versions of the origins of Superman, Bat Man, and all their counterparts in the Marvel Universe. But unlike those movies, Wonder Woman also provides an “origin story” for mankind, leading to difficult questions about whether mankind is inherently good or evil and whether mankind is worthy to be saved.
According to Amazon legend, the chief god Zeus created mankind “in his image” and essentially good. Out of jealousy, Aries, another god, corrupted mankind by placing war and dissension in their hearts. The all-female race of Amazons was created by Zeus to be peace-makers among men and—inevitably—to destroy Aries and save mankind.
Aries has a different story, though, one he shares with Diana near the end of the movie. He claims mankind was corrupt from the beginning, and all he has done is whisper encouragement in their ears to get them to destroy themselves.
The similarities between this origin story and the Christian story of the Creation and Fall are striking. In the Bible we read that God created humans in his image and set them over his “very good” creation (Genesis 1-2). Another spiritual being caused the first humans to question God’s commands and disobey him, leading to separation from God and the need to be “saved” (Genesis 3).
Just like the Amazons’ legend, the creation account leads to some difficult questions. Did God know his creations would rebel against him, but he made us anyway? Did we rebel because of something inherent in us or because of some outside influence? Are we worthy of being saved because it’s not really our fault, or because there is still good in us (along with the evil)? Or are we unworthy because of our sin, but God loves us anyway and he offers us his grace?
The movie raises other questions just as important, because it’s not just Diana who struggles with understanding why humans act the way they do. The humans question it, too, and they question what they should do about it. As humans, it’s all too easy to look for the “worthy” among and be willing to fight, and even die, for them. It’s much harder to sacrifice for the “unworthy” in our world—the poor, the sinners, the lepers of society, the people who hate us, the people who persecute us.
Jesus loved all those people and paid a great price to make it possible for them to be saved. He also said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:9-12).
There aren’t many movies out there which can spark a good discussion about sin and grace, but Wonder Woman is one, and I hope you’ll go see it.
Okay, I promise this is the last post on Captain America: Civil War. I hope you read the other posts, but if you didn’t here’s a quick recap:
Like the Avengers, Christians are called to do battle on the side of good. Our battles are spiritual ones and our enemy is Satan. One of Satan’s great battle strategies has been to divide Christians into multiple denominations and groupings so we will fight against each other instead of presenting a unified message to the world.
Which begs the question: What should we do about it?
Should Christians everywhere lay aside their differences? Should we hammer out an accord we can all sign so we can be one big happy Church again? Should we ignore the ideologies which separate us and present a united front so the world will trust us?
Jesus stressed unity when he prayed to the Father: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23). And Paul said, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
But can we get past all our differences and stand united with people who, although they call themselves Christians, think very differently than we do? Not only are we split along denominational lines, but there are bigger issues which divide us - big questions like: Is the Bible true and reliable? Is faith in Jesus the only way to heaven? If we can’t agree on these issues, should we set them aside and make compromises for the sake of unity?
The Avengers didn’t. By the end of the Civil War movie, there was no resolution of who was right and who was wrong. They still did not agree. They did not reunite. There was only a shared commitment that each of them would keep doing what they could to fight for what they believed in.
Two more big questions which divide Christians are, “What is the purpose of the church in this world?” and “What’s the end game God is working to bring about?”
Like the Church, the Marvel universe has also been dealing with the question, “What is our ultimate purpose?” In Captain America: Winter Soldier, Nick Fury wanted to put huge gun ships in the air to take out hostile threats on land before they did any harm. His plan backfired when the gun ships were reprogrammed to take out the good guys instead of the bad guys. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark wanted to put “a suit of armor around the world” to protect the world from even bigger threats out in space. “Peace in our time…. Isn’t that the ‘why’ we fight? So we can end the fight? So we get to go home?” To end the fight, Stark created a killer machine intent on destroying all human life. So, that didn’t go well either.
Likewise, Christians who believe God’s plan involves peace on earth may try to hurry that peace along by encouraging unity, respect, and love at the expense of truth, justice, and holiness. I’m sorry, but I cannot agree to that.
Here is what I believe in – what I will fight for – what I won’t compromise on:
· The Bible is true and reliable.
· Jesus Christ is the son of God, and faith in Jesus is the only means of salvation.
· God is sovereign. He’s got the “end game” figured out. He will bring it about in his own timing.
· My job as a Christian is to stand firm in my faith, love God, love others, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because all Christians don’t agree with these points, the Civil War will go on.
Pick a side and suit up, soldier.
In my last two posts, I told you that – if you are a Christian – you are a soldier in God’s army. Your enemy is Satan, and your mission is to stand firm in your faith despite everything Satan throws at you. God also commands us to take the gospel into all the world and to live holy lives, pleasing to him.
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
Okay, I admit it. I’m a nerd. I anxiously awaited the opening of Captain America: Civil War and made sure I saw it the opening weekend. And when the DVD comes out, I’ll add it to my library of Marvel movies.
At least one movie critic calls these kinds of movies simple escapism. “As long as people want to see good triumph over evil, see a man or woman fly or just forget about life’s problems for a few hours, superhero films will exist.” In my opinion, anyone who thinks superhero movies show a clear line between good and evil hasn’t seen very many superhero movies.
The first Captain America movie was an old-fashioned, good-guys versus bad guys flick. It was set during World War II, which (at least in our collective memories) was a simpler time. The second Captain America movie jumped to the 21st century (thanks to Cap being frozen in polar ice for 70 years). Now the bad guys are deep inside the good guys’ camp, waiting for their big moment to take over the world, and even the good guys are making some really bad decisions. By the time we reach the third installment of Captain America the good guys can’t even agree on what is good and what is bad—hence the name, Civil War.
In Civil War, the heroes are divided over the question of who should control their superheroing activities—themselves or a bureaucratic oversight panel. What caught my attention is how each of the heroes in the movie decided to join the fight. Some were led by ideals, others by respect for the law or government. Some were moved by friendship, others by duty. Some responded just because they were called, happy to be part of something bigger than themselves.
For the most part, they fought because they are soldiers—and that’s what soldiers do.
Soldiers fight. And every child of God is also a soldier of God. We have been called to do battle.
“Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well.” 1 Timothy 1:18
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4
If you’re not sure what all this battle talk is about, I’ll be posting two more pieces on this topic over the next week. Until then, let me leave you with one of my favorite ‘soldiering’ songs.
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What is my mission as an author? It's a tough question, but I believe the goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they really believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.