(Written on November 22, 2012)
Recall the last action film you watched. Did the antagonist get away scott-free? Chances are they didn't.
Notice I said "antagonist" and not "bad guy." Quite often the protagonist is a "bad guy," especially if you took them out of the story and put them into reality. How often do you see the protagonist taking the law into their own hands and administering what they deem to be justice without using the pre-existing law enforcing channel? The fictional law system doesn't even need to be corrupt for the protagonist to bypass it.
Yet as you watch such films, how many of you find yourselves mentally admonishing the protagonist? I doubt very many, if any, of you find yourselves silently saying "I know they threatened the lives of his friends and family, but I don't think it's right that the hero goes around killing all those people."
I have come up with the following skit - perhaps for my own amusement, but also to show an alternate point of view.
Setting: A couple of guards, Evan and Joe loiter outside a warehouse. They are wearing black uniforms and are holding huge guns. A young man cautiously approaches. Evan and Joe raise their guns as soon as they spot him.
Joe: Who goes there?!
Scott (freezing): Hey it's me, Scott! Don't shoot!
Joe: Scott who?
Scott: Scott Freed
Joe (to Evan): Oh, that guy, you know, Scott Freed, the guy who shot himself in the foot, remember that?
Evan: Oh ya, I 'member. Graduated with the idiot. (Louder, to Scott) What da heck you doing here Freedo?
Scott (nears them with a couple steaming cups in his hand): I lost a bet and I had to deliver coffee to you guys.
Evan: You never were the sharpest bulb in the crayon box, Freedo. Good way to get yerself kilt.
Joe (grabbing a coffee from Scott): I for one am glad I didn't shoot you. Scott Freedo is it? I'm Joe.
Evan: His name ain't actually Freedo. But dis one time-
Scott: Shut it Evan.(Evan laughs as he takes a coffee)
Scott: You can call me the stupid one if you want, but you're the ones who are in the real danger.
Joe: What are you talking about?
Scott: Laserdude.(a short, awkward silence)
Joe: I hate that guy.
Evan: Yeah, just cuz he can shoot lasers from his eyes, it don't mean he can just be goin around killing around everyone he wants.
Scott: It's not everyone, it's those people behind implanting lasers in his head and killing his friend in a genetic experiment. I hear he has a constant headache.
Joe: Well we had nothing to do with that.
Scott: You're guarding the very warehouse that he was tortured in. In a sense, you're in league with the bad guys.
Evan: Who you calling bad guys?
Scott: I mean according to Laserdude. But really, why are you working for that company? You hear what they do... you know who your boss is...
Joe: Scott, do you have any kids?
Scott: No... none that I know of, anyway.
Joe: Well I do. And I got to feed them somehow. That's why I took this job, because the pay is good and I want to send my little Angel to college someday.
Evan: 'sides, work is hard to find deez days.Scott: I hear ya. But I'm outta here. I don't want to be around when Laserdude gets here.
Evan: If Laserdude does get here, I hope he just cuts a hole through the back.
An enormous explosion bursts out from behind the warehouse and Scott, Evan, and Joe are engulfed in a giant ball of flame.
You don't get to see Evan, Joe, and Scott when you are watching the movie "Laserdude IV." And even if you did, you wouldn't get to hear this dialogue.
I know that it seems pointless to read this far into movies, to try to see the point of view of the "bad guys." Yet how often in real life to you wish ill of other people even though you don't really know them or understand their situation?
"But what they did is so wrong," you say. You're right. And we have this built in desire for justice, so we'll go on to say, "they deserve the death penalty." While saying this, though, we put ourselves above them. We are better than them and we know best.
There is a fury that builds up in us when we see something unjust happens. This fury can often give rise to hate. It's so easy to take the step from hating injustice to hating the person who performs it.
Lets zoom out and take a look at the big picture. Ultimately, God is the judge of the highest level and everyone will be judged according to their actions (Revelation 20:13). That means that even if someone gets away with murder here on Earth, ultimately their actions are known and will be used as evidence against them in the divine court.
I'm not by any means trying to disregard the judicial systems that we have in place. While I believe that we should love everyone, I also believe that a person should face the consequences of their actions here on earth.
Proverbs 6:30-31 - People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
One of the biggest problems some people have with Christianity is that someone who isn't a Christian but lives a decent life can go to hell, while the most vile person can repent on their deathbed and go to heaven. Something about this just ignites the furious flame of our sense of justice. But hear me out.
God is so awesome. His magnificent creation is a witness to his splendor. He has spoken to us, and is speaking to us. He is real and is involved in our lives. God is holy, and there is nothing that even compares to him. Quite frankly, it's just plain wrong to worship something other than him.
Yet when people are unrepentant, that's exactly what they are doing. When people are trying to live good lives on their own apart from God they are ignoring the only one worth paying attention to. Those people who claim to believe in God but do not accept Jesus as their Saviour aren't listening to God. It's just plain wrong to know of God but not to listen to him.
People are sinful by nature; our very nature is offensive to God. Yes, the murderer who repents on his deathbed has offended God with the things of his life, but same with the person who has lived their life trying to make it to heaven on their own. Everyone on the planet deserves the death penalty. That is why it is wrong to hate those who commit injustices. We have committed injustices too, and God has every right to hate us. But God loves us: us, who have committed the worst sin of offending the all-powerful God. He loves us, so what right do we have to hate those who offend us with their unjust actions?
There are those of you who disagree with me, those that say that we aren't born into sin and at heart we aren't evil; God isn't who I say he is and he didn't say what I claim he did. To those people, let me implore you to search your own beliefs. Where does our sense of justice come from? What are you basing these beliefs on?
According to the bible, one sin is all it takes to make us deserving of death. To those who don't believe this, how do you know that you are a "good" person? How does one weigh how evil something is? If you are trying to get to heaven by behaving rightly, what certainty can you have that you're making it if you have no way of measuring morality? How do you know that it would be right for God to save you?