Assistant Faith Editor
“If you get hit, hit ‘em harder, if you get killed, walk it off,” Captain America says as he rallies his team to fight against an army of destructive robots in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The speech is fitting coming from someone that embodies the ideas of the United States. As you are prob- ably aware, if you grew up watching popular media, one reoccurring characteristic of our nation is the fight against resistance.
This is precisely the reason we re- late so many characters battling intelligent robots and shape-shifting aliens; this world puts us in a constant state of conflict.
Everyone meets resistance when pursuing their goals and must overcome obstacles to achieve them. And while there are not many constant things, the past and current state of our world testify that conflict is one of those few things.
But how do we react to conflict? Like Captain America? How do we react when we stand opposed?
When asking how to act in difficult situations, we should look to Jesus, our savior, and how he reacted to situations far more difficult and unjust than we could ever be in.
As in the past, every generation has suffered terrible conflicts that have even led to claims about the “End of the World.”
While people on YouTube might be saying that the coronavirus, rumors of World War III and the Australia fires are all signs of the end of days, people in the ‘60s protested the Cold War that might have very well ended the world. In the ‘40s, thousands of people succumbed to polio and even more died from the bubonic plague 500 years before that.
Christians, especially, have always been and always will be targets of the enemy. War, epidemic, sickness, and disaster have always been on this Earth, and it will stay that way until Jesus recreates it. But the question is not “when is it coming?” but “how do we react to it [whatever ‘it’ may be]?”
This, however, might be the result of the most misunderstood books of the Bible, Revelation.
Rowena R. Strickland, associate professor of New Testament Dr. Bandy, said, “Revelation is not primarily focused on giving signs of Jesus’ second coming,” but, instead, Revelation focuses more on showing God’s people how to react to conflict and oppression.
The Christians depicted in Rev- elation live in an environment of tremendous religious, social, and political pressure to conform to worshiping idols, specifically their political leader. Refusal to worship, we see, ends in loss of respect, livelihood, freedom and even life.
This directly mimics the life that first-century Christians lived in the Roman world and the lives of Christians in the modern world. The culture that Christianity was born in was rooted in the worship of thousands of gods, especially emphasizing the worship of the Emperor.
Refusal to engage in worship of the gods brought a loss of status, and, even more dangerous, not worshiping the Emperor was seen as a political threat. This was one of the primary reasons Roman Emperors like Nero used Christians as scapegoats for social problems; they were some- one to blame for problems that were nobody’s fault, if not the rulers.
Just as sickness and disaster will always be a problem on Earth, so will persecution and opposition against God’s followers.
Revelation speaks to those people who feared a painful death the next time they refused to pour incense over the altar of Nero, but also identifies with the secretly Christian woman in modern Iran and the American Christian that faces daily spiritual attack. In Revelation, Jesus gives us a model that will apply to any situation of opposition. In Revelation 5, God holds a scroll sealed with seven seals and written on both sides, an image of God’s revelation to mankind. An angel then asks the world, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But chapter 5:3-5 says that there was no one worthy to open it, so John, who is witnessing all this, begins to weep.
However, he is the comforted by angel who tells him that “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and it’s seven seals.” But when John looks up to see this ‘Lion of Judah’, he sees a killed lamb who takes the scroll and opens it.
How does this relate to overcoming opposition?
It is the ultimate picture of surpassing impossibility: Jesus, the ‘Lion of Judah’ is also the slain lamb, and He triumphed by allowing Himself to die for His children.
“[O]vercoming is the way of the lamb, not the lion,” Bandy said.
Jesus was able to be the “Lion of Judah,” the savior of the world, by submitting to murder. This is precisely why Jesus calls his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’ and not ‘return evil for evil’: because we don’t need to.
If Jesus, God Himself, is victorious over death itself and is able to reveal Himself to us, then we don’t need to hit back harder. God himself, perfect and just, allowed himself to be unjustly murdered to reveal himself to us.
This is the type of message that Jesus brings: when we come against natural disasters or are treated unjustly, they become small matters, because Jesus has already given us more than we could ever deserve.