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!
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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.