You know what I love? Batman. I love the movies Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I know next to nothing about the comics or the older movies, so I’m not sure how true these two new movies are to their original counterparts, but I really don’t care. As long as I can watch an awesome guy in a black suit beating criminals into fine dust, I’m happy.
You know the awesome thing about Batman? (Besides his crazy ninja skills?) The fact that he’s got some initiative. Just like our dear friend Jack Bauer, Bruce Wayne does not sit on his hands and wait for some other guy to do the work. If there’s a problem, he’s not going to make a feeble attempt to pass some ineffectual legislation, flop back in his chair, and sigh, “Oh well. I tried.” Things were getting desperate in Gotham City. The crime rate was rising with an unbelievable rapidity. Police officers were corrupt. Politicians were worse. So Did Bruce Wayne encase himself in a bubble of determined ignorance and hope the mayor would fix it? He certainly did not! He had the resources and the ability to do something about it, so that’s what he did.
You know, he almost reminds me a bit of David.
I’m sure you all remember that story. In Israel, just like Gotham, things were getting desperate. The Philistines were this close to wiping everybody out, and the people who were in power wouldn’t lift a finger to do anything about it! And along comes some young upstart…. Well, you could have called David a fool for what he did. Here he was, merely a child among grown men who had the training and (more importantly) the responsibility to see off these villainous intruders. When he observed that they were not doing their jobs, did he shrug his shoulders and say, “Sorry, can’t help you.” No! He knew that God’s will was not for His people to perish at the hands of malodorous knaves such as the Philistines, and he wasn’t going to wait around for some other guy to show up and carry it out. Technically, when he volunteered he was not legally authorized to kill Goliath, but do you think such a thing mattered to him at that time of crisis? All he wanted was to accomplish things to forward the kingdom of God, and by golly he did! He did with a vengeance!
Mind, there is some level of waiting. If the people in power aren’t doing their jobs, one doesn’t leap into action immediately. In most cases, you wait for the authorities to sort things out. Wait until the people who are responsible for fixing things start doing their jobs. You can’t always take responsibility for everything. But there comes a point where enough is enough. It was, what, forty days that Goliath was stomping around out there? I think that’s quite enough time for an army to gather its nerves. David believed, and so do I, that if they hadn’t done it by then, they never would.
Bruce Wayne’s attitude was similar. Things had gone far enough. The police wouldn’t help, and the politicians certainly wouldn’t. So he took the only option available to him: he waded in and did the dirty work himself. He was criticized for it, yes. He was labeled a vigilante and a criminal. But all that mattered to him was that the city he loved would be a safer and better place. If he had to crack a few criminal skulls, so be it. If he had to break the law, that was just too bad. It had to be done. That’s why I like Batman and Jack Bauer so much: they do what has to be done to save people, regardless of how ugly it is or the criticism they will receive. And they don’t waste time fretting about whether or not there is another way. If there is clearly only one road to take, they take it without hesitation.
I think we Christians have problems with this sort of thing. Here in America, things rarely get to such a desperate state that we have to kill or hurt somebody, and when they do we don’t see it. Our lives are comfortably insulated from dark truths. We don’t like violence, and we shrink from believing it would ever be necessary. And not only physical violence, either. There’s a kind of spiritual violence that often becomes necessary. You have to do hard things in order to really follow God. And people don’t really understand this. You’ll lose friends for doing the right thing, or speaking harsh truths. But that’s just how it is, I guess. The “spiritual violence” I am speaking of is kind of hard to define, but it basically boils down to this: People want to be kind and sweet all the time, but sometimes you have to get very harsh. They want you to forgive everyone who ever does anything wrong: the Bible says to forgive your personal enemies and pray for the destruction of God’s enemies. You can’t love everyone, and you can’t always be sweet and caring. What you are called to do is love God and try to protect the people who are close to you. If this entails speaking harsh truths or doing something that looks mean, well, so be it. Jack Bauer understood this, and he saved the country from terrorists practically a jillion times. Batman understood this concept as well, and he was responsible for bringing his city from ruinous corruption into an altogether better state.
An important point to make is this: Batman doesn’t actually profess to be working for
the sole purpose of accomplishing God’s will. He never mentions the name of God, nor does he pray. This is not something to imitate. But at least he’s doing something! At least he’s not sitting on his hands like many of us are today. At least he’s fighting for a righteous cause! The fact that Batman and Jack Bauer do not profess to be followers of God is what makes them fictional characters: man cannot do such awesome things as those two did under his own steam. He needs a godly cause, and more importantly, he needs the strength that can only come from the Lord. Faith is what gives you the will to act! (I think I’ve made this point before, but it won’t do any harm to say it again.) God does His will regardless of whether or not men participate, but that doesn’t mean you can sit on your rear end and hope everything turns out okay. You want to be called a Christian? You’d better do some work. Mind, your accomplishments are by no means the source of your salvation. But if you really love God, you will feel the need to do His will and glorify Him with your work. Laziness and love do not mix well.
So, to conclude: Batman is awesome. This is because a) he has an absolutely fantastic superhero costume and he has crazy ninja fighting skills. And b) he takes action. He knows when things have gone too far and immediately steps in and does all in his power to fix them. He’s not lazy, timid, or feeble. When he thinks something needs to be done, he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. He does it with a vengeance! Bruce Wayne was only one guy, but he didn’t let doubts or fears get in his way when he saw what needed to be done. He didn’t rely on people who were clearly too lazy or corrupt to do their jobs. This fearless action-taking is, more than his belt dripping with heavy weaponry (although that is pretty awesome), is what makes Batman my favorite superhero.
I wonder if he needs a sidekick…