I finally got a chance to watch The Wall and couldn’t help but notice the spiritual warfare parallels. This may not be a subject you’re very familiar with, which is fine by Satan. He’d prefer you live in ignorance/arrogance, confident you’re running the show, while he quietly tips the scale, pulls the strings, and destroys your life.
My reason for watching it in the first place was because it’s directed by Doug Liman. He’s the guy behind Edge of Tomorrow which is my favorite film. So it was almost mandatory viewing. Spoiler alert – I loved the ending.
No, trolls, I don’t enjoy the thought of American troops dying, or any soldiers dying for that matter. Few things delight Satan more than watching people kill people, especially in the name of God or some supposedly just cause. Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, yet our crusades and holy wars live on. Hauerwas was on to something when he said that America’s real religion is war. The cross only makes sense if there’s a bigger and more important story at work; otherwise it’s foolishness. Thankfully, “The foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of foolish plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25) But I digress…
I loved the ending because 1) it wasn’t what most people expected 2) it wasn’t what most people wanted 3) it wasn’t politically correct. How often do you get that in our age of play-it-safe, formulaic Hollywood money grabs?
But there’s another reason the conclusion resonated with me. It reflected reality better than most war flicks I’ve seen. In general, we like to keep our combat stories patriotic: overflowing with can-do optimism, military martyrdom, and righteous zeal. But in The Wall, the “bad guy” wins by outsmarting and outlasting the “good guys”, reminding me of how the Viet Kong persevered in the Vietnam War, or Russia recently hijacked our elections.
When you move beyond pop-culture Christianity and the propagandizing that goes with it, you begin to see how many Christians are actually winning the wrong battles and losing the ones that really matter. When you stand before God one day and give an account, he won’t ask you how dedicated you were to your political party, how successfully you attained the American Dream (read: nightmare), how safe or comfortable or smart or attractive or popular you were. He’ll ask you about love and obedience and faithfulness. He’ll inquire about what you did with what he gave you.
So let’s get to it, shall we? My theme verse for this film is 2 Corinthians 2:11, “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Do you see what this implies? Satan has strategies bent on your destruction. If you are NOT aware of his schemes, odds are you WILL be outsmarted by him. Think about that for a second. The Wall does a brilliant job of illustrating exactly how this happens.
The enemy sniper is educated and experienced. He knows the tools, tactics, language, and protocol of his targets. He’s not stupid or crazy and he has a plan. Sound familiar? Before he was cast out of heaven, Satan was part of the angelic elite. He knows the Bible better than you do. And he pretends to be an angel of light. You might be cooperating with him without even knowing it.
If you are not discerning and alert (1 Peter 5:8), don’t have your armor on (Ephesians 6:10-18), and are not actively taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), odds are you’re gonna get played and/or taken out.
You may have no idea how generational sins are keeping you stuck in destructive patterns. You might not see how bitterness and anger are corroding your soul. You may not notice how your love for food, football, Xbox, or Netflix has turned you into a Christian couch potato, completely ineffectual in the fight. You might be self-righteous without realizing it. You may have allowed our culture’s definition of success to replace God’s. Your endless pursuit of more might be leading you off a cliff. Your non-stop busyness and addiction to achievement could be crowding out all the room for love in your heart. Your secret addictions may be costing you more than you know. The culture war you’re waging might be hurting your witness and hardening your heart. There are so many ways that Satan can trick you, trap you, accuse you, shame you, deceive you, contain you, distract you, and destroy you.
Simply put, if you are not regularly connecting with God and other believers, if you are not consistently praying and reading your Bible, if you are not walking in obedience and engaging in spiritual disciplines and living in love, you are an easy target. You are a Martha or a Pharisee or a tax collector, but you are not a Mary. You are not putting first things first.
It’s true. God loves you and has a great plan for your life. He wants to do amazing things in and through you. But it’s also true that Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life and wants to do destructive things in and through you. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10
Don’t let the enemy outsmart you. Put your armor on. Get your mind right. Stay alert. There’s a war on and you may be in the crosshairs.