I have been thinking about this topic for some time, and Ant-Man, which I recently watched, provoked some more simmering in my mind. The problem: movie directors making heroes that have little moral regard and influence. It is like they are trying to get me to say, “Look, this is a good person,” despite his many flaws that are never mentioned. (Not that I should be expecting much from Hollywood) This may seem harsh, so let me clarify. I realize that there was only one perfect man that walked on this earth, and his name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the ultimate character that, whether we realize it or not, we all desire to be like. He is love. He works through mistakes to make beautiful things. And while many of us struggle to act like him, we always fall short, because we are sinners. So I do not expect perfection in the hero of the story. However, I do expect resolution. And when I see faults in a hero that are never even bothered to be mentioned, the hero is spoiled. If I were to compare that character to myself, it would be like me living unrepentant of numerous sins and acting as if I were living like a perfectly righteous person. As the Bolt movie quote goes, “I am irked.”
Yet it seems that this type of character, which is becoming very frequent in movies, is a good representation of our culture’s moral groundwork today. Our culture’s moral groundwork is broken. Christianity use to be the backbone of this nation. I am sorry to say this, but that backbone has been ignored and mistreated, and that is visible through these types of characters. However, I am NOT a pessimist. I have hope for America and pray for her that God would lead her people to their knees in humble repentance and reliance on Himself.
What I look for in a hero is resolution. There are a few people I have met that I very much admire. One of them is my Father. He is a content man. There is something to be said about a man who strives after contentment and godliness. In that there is great gain, as the scriptures declare (1 Timothy 6:6). There are also some younger people that inspire me to act righteously. I have thought about what it is about these people that makes me gravitate toward them. I think it is that they have joy and motivation about life, and are also content with their portion. They are subduing the earth and enjoying themselves while doing so. That is a beautiful thing. No, they are not perfect. But there is resolution in their lives. Because these people strive to act like Christ, I strive to imitate them just as Paul told the saints in Corinth to imitate him and sent Timothy to them (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).
The way the problem of these unresolved, morally-wanting characters is being resolved: the church is dutifully striving to create Christian culture, and she has and will continue to succeed through faith by the grace and mercy of God. All of us, as part of the body of Christ, share in this duty. We must not be content with loose-thread, good characters. The next questions then, are how do we make Christian culture, and what is Christian culture? There are a lot of other people that would do a much better job answering this question, but, in short, Christian culture is one of life, death, and resurrection. Christian culture is one that is not afraid of failure, because we know that there is someone who is greater than all of the failures of this world. How do we create this culture? We continue in faithfulness to God. We keep worshiping God and fulfilling the great commission. Faithfulness is reformation. We continue in prayer. We trust in God and subdue and take dominion of this earth. We learn to create as God creates. We learn to write stories with fierce and frightening conflict that point to a God who brings resolution to all things.
In “Art at its most basic level,” John R. Erickson writes (the article is cited below) that his small-town church played an important role in his becoming a small-town author. After talking about the infiniteness of the universe, Erickson writes that he is left speechless after reading Psalm 8:3-4, which says, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him …?” It is the life of Christ and the beauty and magnitude of creation that leaves Erickson in awe of God, and inspires him to write. May all of us be inspired in the same way that Erickson is. May we all be inspired to create and love as God does.
As Christians, it is our duty to fulfill the great commission, and as we are faithful in doing so we will make an impact on the world culture. J.I. Packer (1993) writes, “As Christians thus fulfill their vocation, Christianity becomes a transforming cultural force (p. 236).” Ultimately, as we do this, we will bring glory to God and become more fruitful and resolved characters in the process. So may we be faithful.
Erickson, J. R. (2016, January 9). Art at its most basic level [Electronic version]. WORLD News Group. Link: http://www.worldmag.com/2016/01/art_at_its_most_basic_level
Packer, I. J. (1993). CONCISE THEOLOGY: A GUIDE TO HISTORIC CHRISTIAN BELIEFS. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.