Besides the action, adventure, and obvious diversity of this dynamic and much applauded film, the movie Black Panther offered some very good spiritual insights and comparisons to the Church that I think Christians can glean and learn from. (WARNING: SPOILER ALERT)
As we are in the season where Hollywood celebrates itself with award show after award show, and with a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding the Black Panther film, it seemed appropriate to look at the film from a different angle. So, I’m just going to give a few highlights of what I observed in the film that may be helpful in how we think about church or ministry.
One of the things that stood out to me in particular was the war scene between the Wakanda people who were for T’Challa (Black Panther) and the Wakanda people lead by “Killmonger” who were against T’challa. The scene shows the chaotic and violent assembly of the Wakanda people who, before Killmonger asserted himself to the throne, were unified and loyal to their appointed heir and leader T’Challa.
It truly reiterates Jesus’ point to the Pharisees who were accusing Him of doing miracles through the power of Satan that a kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand. The sames holds true for the church. Too many times Christians of all denominations are infighting among themselves over petty issues and grievances. In essence, majoring on the minors, and minoring on the majors. There is nothing good that ever comes from a church/ministry that isn’t unified. Psalm 133 is very clear that it is good and pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity, and when we do that’s when God commands His blessings over us.
Another point that I noted was that there was betrayal on two fronts: first with the father of “Killmonger” who initially stole some of the precious “vibranium” of Wakanda, and then with T’Challa’s best friend, W’kabi going against him by siding with “Killmonger”. As close as he was to T’Challa, one would think he would have stood by his side to help him fight for the throne, but alas, that wasn’t the case.
Which brings me to my next point that there’s always someone who may not necessarily be on the same side or page as you in ministry. No matter how long you may have worked with an individual there may come a time when you realize a person has betrayed you on some level. It’s not necessarily in every church/ministry, but it is prevalent in most and I think this is indicative of the body of Christ because again we’re not unified in the Spirit as individually or corporately as the body of Christ like we should be. Jesus said it best in John 13:35 – “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
It’s also insightful to note how the Wakanda people’s overall goal was to encapsulate everything in their kingdom for their own use and edification and not go beyond the boundaries of their country. In doing this, and many churches are guilty of it,
They become insulated and count their success based on their own standard of doing things.
They feel they are thriving because they have everything they need within the ministry. That’s a very dangerous position for any church or individual to be in because it isolates you. When you isolate yourself from others for whatever the reason, it’s an opening for the enemy to come in. The Black Panther and the Wakanda people eventually came to realize there’s a way to share your blessings with others, without compromising your values. Many of us in the church would do well to heed the same lesson.
Finally, what was to me a very sad moment in the film, was how in the end “Killmonger” preferred death over life. When the Black Panther offered him the opportunity to be healed, he equated continuing to live, to a life of bondage because basically it wouldn’t be on his terms. That’s a very distorted viewpoint for one to have in life. Killmonger, was so consumed with rage and vengeance about the rejection and abandonment he experienced as a child that he couldn’t see past anything else.
As believers, we may sometimes feel the same way because of circumstances beyond our control that we want to take matters into our own hands or just give up completely. But the Lord has made it clear that He, and only He, can justify the wrongs to make them right; vengeance belongs to Him…not us.
When we take matters into our own hands, we’re in essence saying to God, “no I don’t trust that You can handle this”, or “I got this”.
That is the very essence of pride. We need to remember as believers that everything we have and do including breathing, is a direct result of God’s grace, and we can trust Him because unlike us, He is faithful and God has an awesome and infallible track record!