Are There Any Bad Guys Anymore?

My wife Deborah and I are easily entertained, so we aren’t the best to ask about whether or not to see a movie. At the same time, we do like to have breakfast and a movie on our Fridays off, so we end up seeing quite a few films a year.

Before going any further: let me just say that even though I am speaking in generalities, don’t read any further if you don’t want any plot points spoiled.

If you watch much television or see many films, you cannot help but notice a theme that seems to be more and more pervasive in the last few years: Are bad guys really that bad?

Whether you’ve watched Breaking Bad, Dexter, Maleficent, or even Godzilla, understanding why bad people do bad things seems to almost excuse their bad behavior.

At the same time, the people who used to always be the good guys may not be nearly as good as we thought they were. For example, how many films nowadays do we discover that the bad guy is actually someone who is high up in the American government?

To make matters potentially even more confusing, filmmakers even like to point out the fatal flaws of those we used to consider our heroes. From Noah to Iron Man and everyone in between, the people we watch on film are never really as good as we thought they were.

As a result, we find ourselves rooting for the bad guy or uncertain if he or she is the protagonist or the antagonist.

Here’s the most important question: is all of this moral ambiguity really a bad thing?

Here’s why I think that in some cases this could be a good thing in the real world:

According to the Scriptures, we are all created in God’s image, and we are all broken and fragmented due to our fallen nature.

Don’t get me wrong, I also believe the Scriptures teach that there are choices that we make that are destructive, and there are choices that we make that are life-giving. I know that to be true.

However, when it comes to people, it is good to give people the benefit of the doubt. We need to assume the best in people that make bad choices so we can befriend them and help them choose a better path. We judge and cut off people far too quickly.

At the same time, we need to realize that our heroes are not perfect and may let us down from time to time.

Furthermore, when we feel that we have emerged to become the good guy, we need to be careful not to allow pride to trip us up.

The apostle Paul saw God do some truly amazing things including the way he was able to start new communities of faith all over the known world. In fact, his letters to the churches that he started make up half of the New Testament!

In one of the last letters he wrote, Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”

How could our hero Paul say this about himself?!

The closer we get to God, the more we realize how far we still have to go to become holy and godly.

Feel like the bad guy? It is never too late to ask God and others for help to change your path.

Feel like the good guy? Never assume you have arrived. You are not nearly as mature as you think you are.

One final thought from our hero, the apostle Paul:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

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