I love a good hero, and I love a good villain. Like a true, red-blooded American male, I only think something is worth my time if there’s a winner and a loser. And this should go without saying, but I would prefer to be the winner rather than the loser. 

Heroes and villains. That’s the world we live in. A lot of people have made a lot of money off of me because they market themselves as a hero who must destroy a villain, or else… 

Here is a sampling of those profiteers:

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • The Cincinnati Bengals
  • James Bond
  • Halo

The list goes on. I want to be on the winning side, so I spend money to either try to contribute to the heroes’ cause or—at least—live vicariously through them. 

This is why I believe soccer has failed to see the success in America that it has achieved world-wide. Soccer fans are able to come to the end of a match and say, “We both tried our best. Let’s call it a tie!” Culturally, we are completely allergic to that nonsense. 

The problem is, the more people try to profit off our desire to be winners, the more it bleeds out of things like superhero movies and football games, and into real aspects of our lives. That’s not great because, in real life, there aren’t actually heroes and villains. Not if we take Jesus at his word, anyway. 

Here’s a passage of Scripture that would make my life way easier if it just didn’t exist. Matthew 5:43-45 says this: 

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”

Woof. How seriously am I supposed to take that? Enemy is a strong word. So is love. Is this one of those hyperbolize-to-make-a-point things? 

Fast forward a couple of years to when Jesus is getting arrested, and his disciples try to wage a holy war in defense of their leader. Peter even cut a guy’s ear off! But Jesus tells them not to fight and heals the man’s ear on the spot. 

It’s starting to sound like he takes this pretty seriously… 

Fast forward a couple more hours to when Jesus is hanging on the cross and prays about the people who are currently actively killing and/or mocking him: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” 

Fine. I’ll love my enemies. But what does that even mean? 

It’ll mean something different for everyone, but I want to talk about an example that is particularly important to and difficult for me: politics. 

Maybe you’re not like me. I hope you’re not like me. 

But maybe you are. Maybe you’re fascinated by how our government works. (Or doesn’t work.) Maybe you have entrenched political opinions. Maybe in the same way the Marvel Cinematic Universe profits off of a common desire to be a hero and vanquish a villain, Fox News or MSNBC or a political candidate has profited off of that same desire within you. Maybe you want to be counted among the pro-life bloc or the fiscally responsible bloc or the civil rights bloc or the MAGA bloc or the anti-MAGA bloc to give those groups more power over their enemies. 

But what is an enemy, to the Christian, except someone to whom we are supposed to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? 

Jesus’ enemy wasn’t any person. His enemy was sin and death. He had enough nuance present in his fullness of both grace and truth to be an enemy of a force that had power over people without being an enemy of the people that force had power over. Or even an enemy of the people who gave that force its power. 

Jesus’ call on my life has been pretty simple when it comes to this: anything that tells me I’m better than another person is a lie. Likewise, anything that pits me against another person who is created in the image of God is a lie.

That may sound weak. It may sound naive. Fortunately, Jesus has proved the strength of this way of living over and over and over again. So I’ve been challenging myself to walk in it. It’s tough—and frankly, I suck at it—but I’m believing it will be worth it in the end. 

[I can’t put this out into the world in good conscience without crediting my friend Matthew McBirth, who started many of these gears turning in my mind.]

Brad Warren

Brad is a part of our Christ’s Church family and serves as the Church Relations Manager at one of our Impact Partners, Christ In Youth.

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