I own an Xbox One. Honestly, I don’t play very much (my kids however, are Minecraft junkies). Part of that is because I am very picky about the games I play. I am not into first person shooters. I am not into racing games. I tend to favor role playing games (RPG’s). I don’t want to play a zombie, or a vampire, or a sith. I like hero games. I want to be the good guy. I want to be the hero. That limits my choices. In fact there are currently only four games that I am interested in…and of them three of them have not yet been released.
One of those three yet to be released games is Batman: Arkham Knight. It comes out next month. This is the third Batman game in the Rocksteady/WB/DC franchise, and the first available for the Xbox One. While I can’t promise that I have any intention of pre-ordering it or even picking it up the first day it hits the shelves at my local GameStop, it would make a great Father’s Day gift (hint, hint, hint).
The ad campaign for this game has been intense; in part because someone came up with a near perfect tag line: Be the Batman.
It almost certainly is a spinoff of this (which has been around for a while):
Now you can
be the Batman. This is what the game promises. Every trailer of the game shows Batman in thrilling cinematic action: fighting villains, driving the bat mobile, gliding through Gotham City, and using all his gadgets. And every trailer ends with that tag line: Be the Batman.
The apex of this marketing campaign is a recent TV spot titled (you guessed it), “Be the Batman.” Apparently they are serious. They do not want you simply to play the Batman. They want you to be the Batman.
While this commercial is currently being played nationally on TV (many of you may have seen it before), it does contain some violence, explosions, and some scary images. If you are bothered by that stuff, or avoid that stuff, then skip the video.
It struck me after I saw it for the first time that basically the commercial is inviting you to become disciples of the Batman.
Be selflessness (like a fireman going into a burning building so save a person trapped inside).
Be determined (keep going and striving, even when it hurts).
Be courageous (stand up for weak and the helpless).
Be feared (by the thugs in the alley).
Be the Batman.
In each of the four scenerios in the commercial, the person(s) that depicted selflessness, determination, courage, and being feared are held up as models because they have become like the Batman. They are like him, and his image is clearly seen by those around him.
The message I came away with is that: You would be a better person if you were the Batman. The world would be better if you were the Batman. Who doesn’t want to be better? Who doesn’t want to make the world a better place? Be the Batman and you can be that better person. Be the Batman and the world will be better for it. Get this game (for only $59.95) and learn how to be the Batman and in so doing improve yourself and the world (or at least the city in which you live).
Now if you think I am going to advocate stealing this campaign and rebranding it for Christianity you are sadly mistaken. I don’t want to see any loud and obnoxious “Christian” t-shirts with a comic book muscled Jesus clearing the temple, or on the cross, or coming out of the tomb with the tag line “Be the Jesus” prominently splashed across the image. That would be lame.
The Church doesn’t need any more gimmicks! It doesn’t need any more team t-shirts, ball caps, or WWJD bracelets. We have way too many of those…and they have not done much good. What it needs is for you and me to be real, intentional, committed, disciples of Jesus; people who do more than just wear the shirts and sport the bumper stickers; people whose life backs up their profession; people who when we speak or when we act leave the unmistakable impression, “that person is like Jesus.”
How silly would it be to see a person dressed as the Batman who avoided dark alleys, never put himself out for anyone, cried and ran away when he got hurt, and was afraid of bullies? It would be laughable, sad, lame, or maddening (or maybe all the above depending on who you were). Such a person could not be said to be a good disciple of the Batman. He might insist that he is, saying, “Hey! I’m wearing the suit! I am the Batman!” but no one would take him very seriously. No one would get a good idea of who the Batman was, what he stood for, or what he was about by watching such a guy.
The same is true with Christians. Jesus did not say the world will know we are His my disciples by our…
- political affiliation,
- prominent display of your Bible,
- church attendance,
- or our religious lifestyle.
If we live and act like that is what matters and where the rubber meets the road, we are giving about as accurate a portrayal of Jesus and the gospel as a coward in a Batman suit does of the real Batman. Jesus said they would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. John 13:34-35 (NIV), A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
The Christian is known by love. If we love one another like Jesus loves us then we will know that we are good disciples because we will have become like Jesus. We would be like him, and his image will be clearly seen by those around us.
What does that look like? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
A true Christian is patient. He will not lose his cool. He will put up with a lot without buckling. He is willing to suffer long, to be wronged, and to be committed for the long haul.
A true Christian is kind. She will seek to do good to everyone she can, not only to her friends but to strangers and even to her enemies. Their good is what she wants for them and what she strives to give them.
A true Christian does not envy the success, position, blessing, or possession of anyone, rather they are happy in seeing how others are blessed, even if it is far beyond their own blessing. And likewise,
A true Christian does not boast about their own success, position, blessing, or possession or think they are better than those who have less, rather they are humble in seeing how God has blessed them, and are eager to share their blessings with those who have less, even if they will get nothing back for doing so.
A true Christian is not proud. He is humble, meek, and gentle. He knows that he is most in need of grace and mercy. He knows he brings no benefit to God. If God were to withhold His grace, he would be done.
A true Christian does not dishonor others. She is not ever rude, spiteful, or mean. She does not belittle others or speak down to them. What she says and does is done with honor and respect for the person or persons she is relating to.
A true Christian is not self-seeking. He does not insist on getting his own way. Nor is he not guided by selfish, self-serving, or self-promoting motives. His happiness is not confined to themselves but is connected to the needs of others. Putting the needs of others before him is what brings him happiness.
A true Christian is not easily angered. She will be content to let many offenses pass under her love. When she is angry, it will be quick and short lived because anger is not her nature.
A true Christian keeps no record of wrongs. He does not hold grudges. He does not hold offenses against him over those who commit them. Rather, he is quick to forgive, to be gracious and merciful…even with his enemies, and even with the greatest offenses.
A true Christian does not delight in evil. She avoids offending and hurting people. Gossip, slander, backbiting, and whatever other evil behavior there is, is offensive to her and does not take part in it. Neither does she rejoice when bad things happen to people, even to her enemies. Rather she mourns for it.
A true Christian rejoices with the truth. He loves justice, righteousness, and doing all the good he can. He is happy when he finds others doing good and when others experience it, even his enemies.
A true Christian always protects. She is there to defend not only her own, but the poor, the lonely, the downcast, and the broken. Nothing will sway her from doing all in her power to protect these from evil, whether they love her back or not.
A true Christian always trusts. He always bears up. He knows that while he is never enough, Jesus is always enough. Though his faith is tried and tested, and he suffers greatly in his circumstances for his faith, it will stand because Christ is able to make him stand.
A true Christian always hopes. Be her circumstances ever so bleak, her opponents so set against her, and those she loves be ever so lost, yet she will not give up hope. The night may be dark, cold, and long, but she has the sure hope that the sun will break over the horizon.
A true Christian always perseveres. His love for God and neighbor does not go out, but burns on through all that is thrown against him. And therefore,
A true Christian’s love never fails. It endures. It is a rock. Not because she is a rock, but because she is vitally connected to The Rock who is Love. Nothing can stop her from loving, for her supply is eternal.
The Church needs men and women who are working towards that, who are striving with everything they have to have that character, that effect. Half the criticism of the Church and Christianity would cease if even a tenth of those who claim to be Christian were able to be so described more often than not.
As for me and my house, we are committed to that life of love. Who is with me?