Jon Pyle Profile picture
18 Jul, 28 tweets, 6 min read
Just watched #CivilWar. This is a linchpin story in the #MCU. So many good things that payoff later. But, what I saw with absolute clarity was the arc of #BlackPanther and Justice.
In Civil War, T'Challa is driven by vengeance masquerading as justice. He wants to get justice for his father and he thinks killing the culprit (Bucky) would be just. However...
T'Challa comes to realize that revenge isn't justice, as he watches the Avengers tear themselves apart. Revenge is reductive "justice" (which isn't justice, but reciprocity) that leaves everyone worse off. "You took from me, so I take from you" makes everyone LESS.
T'Challa in full Black Panther costume, but crucially without the mask, has a conversation with Helmut Zero and realizes that Bucky wasn't really the bad guy. Zero was the villain because he CREATED the problem. But T'Challa saves Zero. Why?
Zero cannot decide his own fate. That's not justice. Justice is about the victims. Justice is making things right for the victims, not necessarily punishing the perpetrator. Huge difference. Sometimes (dare I say often), RESTORING the perpetrator is more just than punishment.
In this case, and in many non-Comic Book Movie cases, the perpetrator is also a victim of sorts. A victim of what created them. Often that's an unjust system. In Bucky's case it's a man looking for revenge that literally turned him into a murderous killing machine.
Killing Bucky does nothing to restore T'Chaka, his Father, the royal family, or the people of Wakanda. So... and this blew my dang mind... they RESTORE Bucky. He comes to Wakanda and they deprogram him.
Not only does Bucky finally get a life where he can thrive, he becomes a valuable contributor to society. And they eventually give him his arm back. Both were taken from him.
When justice is served, everyone can be MORE. And justice systems should work on behalf of the society and victims to bring restoration to the best of their ability.
Of course, people should be held accountable for their behavior. Consequences are critical for justice. But when you diminish people, it’s hard to get to justice. Usually the best you can get to is equity/reciprocity.
Justice isn’t fairness. Justice is making things right. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s what John Lewis gave his life for. Justice.
And God cares about justice. That’s not a #JesusJuke. Justice is fundamentally part of the nature and character of God. It’s part of the good news Jesus came to proclaim. It’s why the marginalized LOVED Jesus. And still do.
All the “just preach the Gospel” guys overlook an essential part of God’s character. Social justice is just plain justice. And if things aren’t more just, they aren’t more godly. If WE aren’t more just, we’re not more holy. Justice is essential to holiness.
God’s plan for justice created a way for EVERYONE to be declared (legal term) righteous. And once we receive that grace, how can we not try to bring that grace to others?
I can’t overemphasize this: we are God’s plan. His hands and feet. We’re never going to make this world perfect BUT everywhere we go should be more just.
And I forgot my last #BlackPanther point!!!! In the standalone film, T’Challa’s antagonist is #Killmonger, who absolutely has a retributive, reductive sense of justice.
And he justified anything (killing our own brothers and sisters on this continent) to try and be made whole. He was a victim trying to make things right in a distorted way.
Perfect counter to T’Challa, who just learned how hollow (and ultimately ineffective) the pursuit of vengeance is.
The foundation of the conflict comes from T’Challa’s insistence on bringing Klaue to justice in Wakanda. He almost loses his composure and kills Klaue. Instead, he tries diplomacy with the CIA to extradite him.
That’s the window #Killmonger uses to sow seeds of discord and destabilization. He denies T’Challa justice and in the process invalidates his approach in the eyes of some of his people. T’Challa even questions it.
Most of Wakanda doesn’t buy in to #Killmonger, but that doesn’t matter. Division only requires a critical mass. That’s his opening.
Killmonger “defeats” T’Challa in a fair contest to seize power. Justice, in theory. But it required a great deal of injustice to setup. Then he continues the pattern of injustice to ensure he keeps power.
That is why it is CRITICAL and ESSENTIAL that T’Challa challenges Killmonger legitimately. He didn’t yield and he didn’t die. So the original challenge wasn’t over. But #Killmonger wants none of that.
Justice. T’Challa’s justice revelation from #CivilWar is affirmed. True justice prevails. He even tries to save Killmonger’s life. Retribution and revenge were his and nobody would’ve blamed him.
But he refuses the distorted, warped view of justice that prioritizes vengeance. In many systems, he could’ve rightfully taken Killmonger’s life. He instead offers grace. T’Challa wants to restore Killmonger, who was actually a victim himself.
That’s why T’Challa is furious with his dad.
His Dad created this entire cycle of injustice years earlier and essentially covered it up. T’Challa recognizes that he, as representative of his family and his nation, owes Killmonger justice. Reparations, if you will. The right thing is restoration.
He wants to welcome #Killmonger back to the community. Which is what he lost. What was taken from him. It’s the only way to truly make it right.

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More from @jonpyle

11 Sep
I call this “The Explosive Expert Principle”.

And I’ve seen this principle play out over and over and over again among followers of Jesus.
The name comes from a war story my Dad told me. He was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam as an Explosives Expert. He has some absolutely horrifying stories, but this one is actually a great illustration.
One day I asked him how he became an explosives expert. As a kid, that seemed like a really cool job. He didn’t explain the process, just told the story.
Read 12 tweets
5 Sep
I used to read the Prophets & the Old Testament narratives slightly confused about how faithful people could so quickly and deeply turn to idols.

Watching the American church in 2020... Now I get it.
People that have seen God’s power first-hand, witnessed and experienced His faithful love, can still turn to idols on a dime. Why? I think it’s because idols are easier.
All people are on a trajectory toward pride that must be resisted constantly, lest they fall victim to the original sin. Comfort is the enemy of Christ-likeness.

So... deeply good, kind and devoted people create gods in their own image to worship.
Read 10 tweets
27 Aug
We are conditioned as evangelical/mega church pastors that we “can’t be political”. Or that when we support anything controversial that we’re compromising our ability to reach people for Jesus.

That’s flat out wrong.
The only thing we’re protecting by “not being political” are the oppressive systems. (Systems that we largely benefit from by the way.) Political isn’t bad, it’s necessary, because politics are about people. Jesus was political.
I think we should avoid being partisan. But there is no option where you teach what Jesus said and did without upsetting the powers that be. Grace is radical. Humility is countercultural. Love is provocative.
Read 9 tweets
25 Aug
“Micro-churches” are not a trend. They are the primary avenue of spiritual growth for all followers of Jesus since Peter preached at Pentecost.
Andy Stanley nails it (paraphrased): people grow most in circles, not rows.

Every believer I’ve ever talked to experienced their most significant spiritual growth in the context of intimate community and close relationships. Often facilitated by a mentor/guide.
But here’s where we get it wrong: successful megachurches aren’t some shallow spiritual wasteland. They are just a church of churches. Collections of communities that gather for a type of service once per week.
Read 6 tweets

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