I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I went in to the latest movie, Captain America 3: Civil War, firmly on the side of Team Iron Man. After all, I thought his quote to Captain America made a lot of sense: “If we can’t accept limitations, we’re no better than the bad guys.” It made perfect sense to me. The team of Avengers should not be able to operate without limits, working with a vigilante-type approach that leaves destruction and chaos in their wake. My mind was in sync with Iron Man on this part.
As the movie went along, my alliance began to shift without my realizing it. After the movie was over, the group I was with were all stating they had walked in on Captain America’s side and my wife told them all I was on Team Iron Man. Of course, I stuck to my original side in that moment, but my heart was still working within me. There was a quote in there that resonated with a deeper part of me, in a way that Iron Man’s quote simply could not.
I have come to realize that the reason this quote stands out so much is that it is applicable to our Christian walk. In our world today, the press and politicians and mobs seem to stand on one side of many issues, while the Bible stands on the other side. We are living in a time where being a Christian, holding to a Biblical worldview, is unpopular. It runs contrary to the mainstream culture. And, as Sharon Carter tells us in the movie (using the same exact words that Captain America said to Spider-Man in the Civil War comics), our job is not to move when they tell us that something wrong is something right. When they run counter to Scripture, it is our job to plant ourselves like trees beside a river of truth and tell the whole world: you move.
What I love the most about that Captain America quote, and the reason why it resonates so strongly with me, is that it aligns with several areas and aspects of Scripture. For instance, the imagery of a tree beside a river could be argued to stem from these verses:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)
In both of these verses, the tree that is planted is the person who trusts God, gets his truth from God, and delights in the ways of the Lord. We can further see, in Scripture, that the word of God is truth, making him that river of truth that a person should plant themselves in:
“The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Psalm 119:160 (ESV)
And the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus from God, is a Spirit of truth:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 (ESV)
We are just scratching the surface here with one image in that quote, but the real focus I want to hit upon is in regards to telling the world to be the ones who move. When they proclaim that wrong is right, they are falling under this warning from the prophet Isaiah:
“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 5:20-24 (ESV)
Those of us who are Christian, who hold the Truth from the Word of God and know it to be true, are aware of the things that God calls right and those He calls wrong. Our perspective should not come from the words and thoughts of men, but from those of God, found in the Scriptures. As it is written:
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
We know what is the right thing to do because we have the Bible to guide our paths. We have been warned of times to come with false teachers and preachers, of times when the majority may flock to those false ideas and principles and make them into idols. Paul wrote to Timothy and admonished him to be prepared for a time such as this one to come:
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV)
While all of us have sinned, and continue to live in sins of some degree, our job is not to just shrug our shoulders and continue to live steeped in sinfulness. There are lists of sins, found in Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21, that Paul admonishes us to flee from. We are to work hard every day to live upright and pure lives, not just because God desires it but because in our hearts we know those things are wrong and not good for our lives. We should strive to be holy in our lives as God is holy (See 1 Peter 1:15-16), a work that will take more than a lifetime to accomplish but is an important part of the race we are running.
Next week I will continue this post with a look at Scriptures that say Christians will be hated and persecuted by the world for their beliefs. We are in a time where it is difficult to publicly proclaim your Christian faith, and even more difficult to make it clear that you not only read, but believe in and follow the teachings of, the Bible.
Father, I pray that we would find strength in the midst of these troubled times where being a Christian in the United States is becoming counter-culture and unpopular. I know that there are Christian brothers and sisters in other nations who encounter greater hardships that we know here, and I pray that you would bless them for their steadfast faith in the face of trials and tribulations. Grant us the courage to proclaim our faith for you with boldness and without shame in the face of scorn and mockery. Let us turn to you for the foundation of our beliefs, let your Word form our worldview. Grant the Christians in this nation the wisdom to understand that the Bible is the first and only source for Truth and to avoid being led astray by those who would suggest that being a Christian is a flexible thing, that there is no moral right and wrong, or that the Bible would have been different if it was written today. Father I pray that these times are paving the way for a revival in the world, that we are coming upon a day where many may turn to you and be saved. Use these words for your glory, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
Check out part 2 of this post by following this link.