Good vs. Bad- one of the most popular themes of all time in comics, books, movies, and television. Usually the hero and villain are a fairly equally matched pair, although there are stories where technically the villain is more powerful. But always, always, the villain is defeated in the end after much struggle, sacrifice, and pain on the part of the hero.
Why are these stories so popular? You’d think after hundreds of years of the same basic plot we’d get tired and move on, but no. We stay. We read. We watch. And if the ending isn't a resounding victory for the good guy, we moan.
Today’s culture is saturated more than ever with these kinds of stories. Marvel is making a killing off their superheroes- even the lame ones. If there are guys in spandex with a super power of some kind, we’re at the theater without fail. Even a badly thought through plot line makes a killing because, let’s face it, we want to see good win.
One of my favorite super rivalries is that of Superman and Lex Luthor. On the one hand we have a morally upright, all-powerful being, whose sole purpose is to protect the world from evil and uphold justice. On the other we have a comparatively frail human being whose purpose is to find a way to destroy the hero, become the most powerful person in the world, and stop at nothing to do so. He’s as corrupt as they come. Superman is strong enough that he could easily destroy Lex, yet his morality won’t let him. (Even though Lex has done more than enough to earn him that destruction.) We, the viewers, watch their rivalry play out, always frustrated that Superman won’t defeat the villain once and for all, yet admiring his moral fiber. We would agree with our lips that what Superman is doing is right, but secretly we wish he’d just man up and squash him.
We’d never say that aloud, though. That would make us seem bad. I believe that, in our heart of hearts, we are desperate to be seen as good. And why is that? The World tries to tell us that the “deities” of good and evil are equal, so why are they not equally admirable? Why do we not esteem the thief as much as the police officer?
There’s a very simple answer to that: We know that evil will not win. You could say that we are socially hardwired that way, but I honestly think it goes much deeper than that. I believe that we are born with the knowledge of good and evil. After Adam and Eve’s “eyes were opened” upon eating the fruit in the garden in Genesis 3, we were cursed. Sin invaded our lives, rooting itself in our very beings, turning something that was created good into something evil. We were infected. And like a virus, it spread. Everyone has this evil in them.
I think our souls know they should have been good. Why else would we try to do good things? Do we think they will outweigh the bad things? If I add enough water to my dirt, won’t it eventually become pure? Won’t I eventually be able to leave all of my “Lex-ness” behind and be Superman?
Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
Yeah, God thinks so, too. Just take a look at what the prophet Isaiah says:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
“All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”. Everything good we do is worthless- like a rag so dirty it’s only fit for the garbage heap. Have you ever cleaned windows with a dirty rag? As much as you try, you can’t. The dirt just smudges all over them. When we do “good” things, they are tainted by the evil that’s invaded us.
“Great. Thanks for the bad news. But where’s the good?” you may ask. Well, chin up, because there actually is good news! And the good news is…
Evil is not just going to be defeated. It already has been!
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.(-Jesus, John 16:33)
Sin. The World. Evil. It has already been defeated by Jesus Christ.
If you are a Believer in Christ, I hope the following is an encouraging reminder. If you aren’t, then let this be a challenge to learn more about Him and let it bring you a little bit of hope:
God has already won. Satan just hasn’t stopped fighting yet.
If I could pass one thing on to my future children, it would be this: Live like good will win because it already has. Don’t give into fear. It’s just the last ditch efforts of an enemy that knows he’s already lost.
Think about it.