When it comes to fictional characters, James Bond and Bruce Wayne have always been my favorite guys when it comes to encouraging me to stay focused and forge ahead. Heads up, this post is going to include just one spoiler if you haven’t seen “The Batman” yet.
Some of the greatest moments in my life were often unseen. So many times, I’ve helped people, sacrificed for them, pushed myself to get things done for them and went without recognition. So many times I’ve resisted temptation, yet still suspected of giving in. So many times I could have taken the easy way, methods that would’ve hurt or betrayed others to get me where I wanted farther and faster. But I didn’t. Instead, I see others taking the easy (wrong) way and reaping the rewards, looking at me as if I’m the fool.
Most of the time, I take it in stride. I tell myself that God sees it and that’s enough. But every now and then, it starts to wear thin. The lack of appreciation or immediate rewards that almost feels like self-inflicted suffering starts to make me question whether being a good man is really worth it. Reading the Bible helps, but not when I’m resentful. Not when I’m down. Reading the Bible while I’m so full of pent-up frustration only makes me angrier at myself for not having enough faith.
It’s then that I sometimes put on any Batman or James Bond movie (excluding the Roger Moore depictions), and through the example of these characters I’m able to shake off this human desire for recognition, appreciation, or validation. Just stay focus on the mission.
James Bond and Bruce Wayne have a lot in common, more than people realize. But for me, the main thing I’ve always admired was their almost dogged-like determination to stay focused on the mission, the overall objective. They may encounter romance, friends, and side-tasks along the way, but at the end of the day, the mission comes first. As a Christian living in these modern times…how can I not find that inspirational? Allow me to explain.
Ever since I was a teenager, I dreamed of getting married and raising my own family. But having been the product of divorce and seeing what it does, not only to the separated spouses, but to us kids…long story short, I made up my mind that I would NEVER put my children through the pain, frustration and rage I had to go through.
The character of James Bond and Bruce Wayne are similar in that they both lost their parents at an early age. When you go through something like that, you don’t really have a traditional familial upbringing, compared to other kids. I believe the same could be said about children of divorce.
James Bond had a chip on his shoulder from being an orphan after his parents died in a climbing accident. His loyalty to his country and the mission came from having relied on the charity of others who didn’t “have” to help him. I can relate to this because my own family CONSTANTLY threw in my face what they did for me, almost as if I owed them something in return. I hated this.
When you’re ten and your dad tells you that you should spend more time with him on the weekends because he bought you toys, you start to question why people are doing nice things for you and what they want in return. That’s terrible mindset for a child when it comes to the people he’s supposed to love.
However, when people aren’t related to you and aren’t obligated to go above and beyond to treat you with kindness and generosity…I believe you develop a sense of loyalty. You tell yourself, “I owe them,” not because someone told you, but because you’re grateful. That’s how I feel about God.
When Bruce Wayne’s parents were gunned down in front of him as a child, Wayne’s life focused on a driven need to fight crime and corruption and he doesn’t believe in killing. This is a billionaire. He could have any woman he wants. He could travel the world and post Instagram pics from Tahiti, but instead, he’s made it his mission in life to spend his long nights prowling the city and fighting for “justice”. He can’t stop. He simply has to try, even if it means his death.
“Alright, well what’s that got to do with you, Rock?”
In “almost” every portrayal of Batman, he’s never compromised on his personal code “not to kill.” He refuses to use guns. Now, to us with a pragmatic mindset, this code seems a bit silly. By “not killing” the criminal, Joker, I won’t go so far as to say Batman’s responsible for the Joker’s future victims, but we all know…the Joker’s victims would still be alive if the Joker was killed beforehand.
Instead, Batman sticks to his code, he sticks to his mission even as his enemies adapt and evolve, becoming more dangerous, more powerful with each and every encounter. It culminates in personal losses to Batman, such as the “death” of his sidekick Tim Drake, or the lost opportunity to be with the woman he loves because she just couldn’t accept the man and his mission.
So, what’s this got to do with me? Well, just as Batman’s enemies evolve and get more difficult with every encounter, the same could be said about Satan and existing in this world while striving to live by Bible principles. I say I want to get married and have children. I could do so, easily. I’d just need to submit to the world’s way of doing things and turn my back on my code…God’s word the Bible. Instead, I choose to stick to the mission, keep working hard, have faith, and exercise strength and patience.
Last week, I visited my parents in Georgia and made it a point to meet with an 83-year-old Christian who’s known me since I was eleven. His name is Brother Moses. During our conversation, I told him something that I just can’t tell other people.
I said, “I really hate this world.”
Brother Moses chuckled, “I hate it too!”
“Brother Moses…you have no idea how refreshing it is to be able to just come out say that. If I told any of my friends back home, they’d probably just look at me like there’s something wrong with me. As if I’m a sociopath or a serial killer in the making.”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with you, Rock. Most people don’t know that this world is run by the puppet master that is Satan the Devil. So, they’re not going to understand.”
God knows…God knows, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get with beautiful women over the years. It’s not difficult to have sex this day in age. And if I really wanted children, I could make it happened by not practicing safe sex. But the mission comes first…
I look around and I see a lot of my peers taking the “easy way”…having children outside of wedlock. More and more ladies are openly admitting that they want children and not marriage. People are engaging in the hook-up culture. Couples are living together for years as boyfriend and girlfriend. I see it celebrated. I see it encouraged. I could do the same, EASY…but the mission comes first.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teaches that sexual immorality and fornicators have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven. 1 Corinthians Chapter 7:1-5 teaches that sex should be within the confines of marriage, which is why married couples shouldn’t deprive each other of it. These are the inspired words of God. My loyalty is to God. Not what the world says. Not what cultural leaders say. My loyalty is to God.
When people talk about how Jesus accepts “everyone”…sure, just like the library is open to everyone too. Except there’s signs on the door that says you have to wear a shirt and shoes. With Jesus, salvation is indeed opened to everyone, but through his word the Bible we learn there’s signs on the door that says no sexually immorality, no idolaters, no adulterers, no men who practice homosexuality, no thieves, no greedy, no drunkards, no revilers, and no swindlers. (1 Corinth 6:9-11)
But I get it…some of us don’t have the strength or the discipline. Some of you engaged in sinful behaviors before you finally learned the truth about Jesus Christ through his word the Bible. You may be struggling. Every Christian struggles. It isn’t because God made difficult rules, it’s because Satan has made them difficult to follow.
If God says don’t drink beer and there’s no beer around, that’s an easy rule to follow. But if someone comes and surrounds you with beer and tells you that in order to fit in with this cool crowd, you have to get drunk…suddenly God’s commandments are hard to keep.
And therein lies our greatness that no one but God sees. When we face temptation time and time again…but we put the mission first. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve told myself, “I can have sex with her and ask for forgiveness later.” I’m capable of the same mental gymnastics everyone else is. My mind can rationalize anything I want if I want it bad enough.
But remember that sense of loyalty I talked about with James Bond? As much as God knows how badly I want a beautiful wife, since I pray for it every day as Jesus encouraged (Luke 11:5-13), God has already been extremely generous with me through his undeserved kindness. If you read about my teenage years, then you know there were many paths I could’ve taken in my hate and rage. I could’ve lashed out against my family or society. I could’ve lost myself in drugs and alcohol. I could’ve ended up in jail or just killed myself.
Instead…God guided me throughout the years that resulted in me losing 178lbs, graduating college, working for a prestigious law firm, awesome credit score, owning my own home, and enduring many painful life lessons that expanded my wisdom and understanding to have greater compassion on those who society seems to have turned their backs on. And after years of reluctance, God drew me close by blessing me with the courage to pick up the Bible and read it from cover.
And reading the Bible does take courage because once you know, you can’t claim ignorance as an excuse. I think that’s why so many who claim to be Christian are hesitant about reading it for themselves. It’s a safe thing to be able to say, “I was misled and lied to.” …as if God can’t see into your heart.
In the last scene of “The Batman,” a broken-hearted vigilante watches as the woman he loves drives the other way and out of his life. Then, almost immediately, his eyes hardened with renewed determination. This happened right after she encourages him to leave Gotham with her and live a different kind of life. But she sees the Bat Signal in the sky and says, “I see. You’re already spoken for.”
I appreciated this scene so much because I’ve lived it time and time again. When you’re at the fork in the road where one path gets you the girl, but the other path keeps you on your mission…I know some might chime in and say, “we’ll, why can’t you get the girl and still be on your mission?”
In the movie, Catwoman wanted to kill Carmine Falcone for some really convincing reasons. But Batman is against killing. Now what? You see the problem there? These are the decisions that we have to make and way too often, we as Christians give in to stupid worldly ideologies and lifestyles instead of doing as Batman did and driving the other way.
It’s not just with relationships. It’s with business decisions, lifestyles, and career choices. The world is getting worse. Social Media has turned life into a perennial high school where the popular kids get to decide what’s cool or not. We have to rise above all that and keep our eyes focused on the mission, the Kingdom of Heaven.
“I find it interesting you watch Bond movies despite what you said about sexual immorality and how much you supposedly abhor it.”
That’s understandable. I can tell you I don’t admire Bond for his sexual immorality. You could say there’s other, better fictional characters I could find encouraging who still put the mission first…but another reason why I like Bond is that he mostly works alone…same as me…as opposed to all these shows where everyone has a whole team behind them. The love interest James Bond encounters is usually while he’s sticking to his path. The advice I get from “friends” is to leave my path to find a woman, which often means following their paths until I get to them…which I refuse to do.
“Okay, one more question. If you say you hate this world, why do you want to bring children into it?”
Jesus Christ taught us to love our neighbors. In the Old Testament, throughout Exodus and Deuteronomy, God’s laws were all about treating each other with love and kindness. Just because I hate the world, doesn’t mean I hate people. I hate the sin, not the sinner. I’m often upset and disappointed with people…but like a brother, I still love them and hope they get better before it’s too late.
It’s like when I read about the Israelites building a Golden Calf at Sinai. Not sure if I hate them, but it definitely makes me resent them for blatantly doing the opposite of what God commanded.
When I have children, I won’t be thinking I’m bringing them “into this world” but that God’s blessed me with a reward (Psalm 127:3-5) a natural inclination we as males possess to see our legacy pass on. My children will get to experience the hope of everlasting life so long as I do my job as their father, protecting and guiding them through Scriptural truth and teaching them to put their trust in God as I have. Notice, I never said I hated life or that I hated my life. I live in this world, but I don’t consider myself part of it.
Once upon a time, I tried to be a part of it. But eventually I learned, like Catwoman said to Batman, “I’m already spoken for.” I do consider myself claimed by Christ.
Side note…I really did enjoy “The Batman”. I think it’s entered my top five movies of all time. It’s almost like it was made for someone like me. The cinematography, sound design, and writing was all on point. I love the directorial decisions that were made. Like Pattinson’s portrayal. There were a few plot holes, which I won’t point out. But overall, I’d recommend it!