Heroes & Villains - Part 2

Sometimes the Villain is the Hero...
There are a lot of negative outcomes surrounding discrimination. But maybe the worst thing about discrimination is how it contributes to disconnection. We build barriers and walls and push away those who might be the very ones who are meant to bring hope and joy into our world. But the unknown, the concealed parts of our lives including the potential for pain, make it nearly impossible to move forward.

The relationship between Bella and Edward in the Twilight series highlights this and this one scene captures the tension that exists throughout the series of novels. “What if, I am not the hero? What if I am the bad guy?” And in all that we've been taught, we know that Edward must be a monster for after all, Edward is a vampire.

But author Stephanie Meyers challenges us with the question, a tension that exists in Edward's own character – What if the villain is in fact the hero? It was on his death bed that Edward was turned into a vampire by one who was also a doctor. A doctor named Carlisle Cullen.

Carlisle was the son of minister in the 18th century when he was bitten and because of his convictions, fought to live a new way. Now stop and imagine this – a doctor with over 200 years of medical training. A doctor with a moral compass, a conviction not to survive off of humanity but to heal humanity. A vampire, surviving off of animals rather than humans.

Sometimes the villain is the hero.

This truth has been at the heart of the spiritual struggle that takes place behind the scenes in our world. The story of Elijah the prophet of God in the Old Testament illustrates the ongoing struggle of spiritual warfare. The Bible tells us that King Ahab and Queen Jezabel probably did more evil in the sight of God than any other King or Queen of God's people. In fact, they didn't even worship God but instead chose to worship Baal. In the face of this idolatry, Elijah stood firm and condemned the false worship. Ahab and Jezabel did all they could to dicredit and destroy Elijah. The nation wasn't sure who to believe. In the most powerful exchange in 1Ki 18:17-18 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" (18) [Elijah] said, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. (NASB)

What happened to Elijah was a pattern that would continue and has continued for all who follow after God. To the religious leaders of the day, Jesus, was himself called the villain. Matthew records in chapter 12 the story of a man who was blind and couldn't speak, he

“(22)...was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. (23) All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" (24) But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons." (25) And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. (26) "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? (27) "If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. (28) "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Mat 12:22-28 NASB”
The Jewish religious leaders had already discovered that Jesus was out of their control. In their minds, he was not “their messiah.” He regularly did things they did not approve of, like spending time with prostitutes, fishermen, shepherds and tax collectors. He healed people on the Sabbath and even touched the most vile to heal even! Rather than try to control, they sought to destroy – to discredit and lie.

What do they say? They say Jesus is of the devil! Of all things they could say they try to discredit Jesus by saying he is of the devil. And it is here that Jesus gives the famous - “house divided” teaching. In these lines Jesus again highlights this core value of evil that I spoke last week - '"Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Joh 8:42-44, NASB)

Paul points out what should be evident, is the character of Jesus. Imitated by evil of course, this is what we have to be careful about. But Paul wrote to the Galatian church that the “...fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23 (NASB))”

I can best describe it this way. The pastor that had the biggest impact on my life wasn't the best preacher or the best chaplain. No, Malloy Owens showed it to me because of a life that was simply being a Christian – a word that means literally: “little Christ.” Malloy wasn't boisterous but was simply the kind of guy you liked to hang out with. He wasn't my pastor for more than two years but it was enough. Even within the face of opposition, Malloy showed in his life, the character of Christ – the fruit of the Spirit.

It wasn't a character that Malloy created in himself but what Jesus did in and through him. It is this change that puts God and others first that shows through our lives – it is the loving acts done one at a time that mark the hero from the villain. The devil is in the details – the fine print – the words – Satan is a liar. But Jesus came not to change words and details but to make a difference in our lives – heroes are always found in actions – one loving act at a time.


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