Wonder Woman: No Man's Land
By most opinions and box office results, Wonder Woman is the best DC film in the DCEU and possibly the best DC film since The Dark Knight. I was a big fan of the movie. I don't think it was the most fun Superhero movie I'd seen, but it was definitely one of the best. It was also a big deal to me as a father of three little girls that they have a movie and hero like this to grow up with. I'm sure I went in to it with a bit of a positive bias, but I really am glad it's out there. It was also something that was chock full of spiritual themes and nerdy devotionals abounded over the summer of its release. Even my church did a sermon on it (which is actually just a shorter version of this chapter). It really did speak to my heart on several areas, and I'm glad to share them with you.
Thymiscira, aka Paradise Island, is a place separated from the troubles and frustrations of the day-to-day real world. The gorgeous environment is a bubble of beauty and isolation. They are free from conflict and isolated to the point that all they have to do is study, grow, and train. They prepare for conflict and battle without ever executing what they prepare for. They got so secluded in their methods that when men showed up with guns, they were greatly unprepared because the world that existed outside their bubble had changed, adapted, and become more hostile than they anticipated.
This is much like the church. We live in a self-induced world of seclusion. We have our own music, stores, movies, networks, events, theme park days, and anything else you can name. We gather in our little bubbles, we hear sermons, sing songs, have small groups, and do activities. None of these are bad things. They become bad things if we get so comfortable that we don’t ever really branch out into the world God has called us into.
The Amazons hid away. They weren't impacted by the world, and neither did they impact it. They were also so secluded that they were generations behind the world and unable to relate or be relevant to what they faced by its presence. The difference is the Amazonian leader commanded isolation, where the head of the church (Jesus Christ) commands us to leave our isolation.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." - Mark 16:15
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” - Acts 1:8
Following God Means Leaving Your Comfort Zone
What good is all that we learn in church, in the community of believers, and in our relationship with Jesus if it never makes it beyond our comfort zone? We spend all this time being equipped for the mission of Jesus Christ, but rarely do we actually follow through with the mission. We must go beyond our own little paradise island.
When Steve arrived, it was a wake-up call that they were failing to do what they were called to do. It wasn't until Diana took it upon herself to go into the world that anything changed.
Diana: I am going, mother. I cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost. If no one else will defend the world from Ares, then I must. I have to go.
Hippolyta: I know. Or at least I know I cannot stop you. There is so much, so much you do not understand. Diana: I understand enough. But I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Like you once did.
Hippolyta: You know that if you choose to leave, you may never return.
Diana: Who will I be if I stay?
Going into the world was not an easy process for Diana. It caused conflict with the other Amazons, isolated her from her family, and eventually brought her a world of pain. But it was worth it. It's rarely different for us. We go into the world, but it doesn't go the way we plan. People don’t listen, it’s awkward, we feel isolated, we get frustrated, and we end up just blending into the crowd. We get painted as judgmental villains when all we really want to do is bring people love, life, and truth. Just like Hippolyta knew Diana was going to have a rough journey, Jesus knew it wouldn't be easy for us, except Jesus is a bit more supportive in our hardships. He spent time praying for us, calling out to God on our behalf.
"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." - John 17:14-19
We aren’t meant to blend in with the world
When a Christian is in the world the way God has called them to be, there is no way you can truly blend. You can walk alongside, but you will eventually stand out. When Diana finally makes it to the world of man, they quickly try to disguise her. While that works —sort of — she stands out and gets stuck in doors because of what she's holding on to. She came from a warrior race, and she is focused on getting into battle to stop Ares, but she doesn't blend in because she is carrying around a sword and shield. As Steve frantically told Diana, "You gotta put the sword down. Diana please. Put the sword down first of all." Now Steve wanted Diana to drop the sword because it made her stand out and drew way too much attention, but a similar conversation happened between Peter and Jesus.
"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” - John 18:10-11.
"Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword
will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”- Matthew 26:50-54.
Jesus told Peter to put the sword away, but unlike Diana and Steve, it wasn't for the purpose of hiding. It was for the purpose of following God's will. Jesus wasn't there to attack; he was there to love and to sacrifice. It wasn't the time to battle. Diana and Peter both stood out for their public weaponry, but in reality, Diana stood out even without the sword, and so should we. Our love should be what stands out more than anything.
I’m at enough comicons to see some pretty hilarious cosplay scenarios. When a cosplayer with a giant blade, guns, or other frightening elements is walking through the city streets, it really alarms people. I remember once in Charlotte, there was a guy walking down one of the major city streets dressed as the triangle head guy from Silent Hill. Con goers didn't think twice about it, but the "normal" people of Charlotte were scared out of their minds. Business men, assorted hipsters, and soccer moms would let out shrieks of fear when first laying eyes on the giant frightening blade. It was a blast to watch, but it didn't make for practical social interactions.
If we are to stand out in the world, it's not supposed to be for our weapons or attacks. It should be for the way we love. We should love so effectively and sacrificially that we stand out above normal action. Our love should make us be visibly different, even when we aren't intending to be visible. Paul
instructs the church at Ephesus to put away their "worldly" weapons and to stand out for the right reasons.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:31-32
We aren't ever going to effectively blend into the world, so if we are going to stand out, we should stand out for the right reasons. In Justice League, Batman mentions how Wonder Woman stands out. "You're an inspiration, Diana. You don't just save people; you make them see their better selves." She stands out not because of a sword, but because of the difference she makes. As Christians Jesus laid it out clearly that love is the reason we are to stand out by saying. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
While we are here to love, we have to know that everything God places in our path won't consist of warm hugs. We will have to fight. That doesn’t mean fighting others, but fighting for others. God sends us into the world to do good, to not only proclaim who God is, but show the world what it looks like when God’s people are united in one heart and mind. We want to do the work of God, but wait for a hero like Diana to come in first. We sit around waiting for people to give us easy directions, but in all reality, we probably know where we should go and what we should do. We see where things are broken and what’s wrong, but we don’t act on those things because they aren't pretty.
I hate conflict. Seriously. I hate it. But God has called us to be the ones to handle it. We are fine being the “hands and feet” of Jesus as long as it means hugs and making people happy. When it's situations that make us uncomfortable or fearful, we want to run. There’s a beautiful scene in Wonder Woman and one of the most beautiful moments in any movie where troops had been entrenched for almost a year and wouldn’t move forward. Then she decided to step in.
Steve Trevor: This is no man's land, Diana! It means no man can cross it, alright? This battalion has been here for nearly a year and they've barely gained an inch. All right? Because on the other side there are a bunch of
Germans pointing machine guns at every square inch of this place. This is not something you can cross. It's not possible.
Diana Prince: So... what? So we do nothing?
Steve Trevor: No, we are doing something! We are! We just... we can't save everyone in this war. This is not what we came here to do.
Diana Prince: No. But it's what I'm going to do.
She then climbed up that ladder, stepped onto the battlefield, and took everything those enemy soldiers had. Her stepping out first and embracing the conflict allowed the others to move forward and for lives to be saved, even if it was briefly.
As Christians we are called to be the ones to go into "No Man's Land." We are called to stand up when no one else can or will. We may be the only ones able to help. You might have people
in your life that have been trapped in their own No Man's Land, stuck under the weight of a struggle and feeling like they have no hope of redemption or forward motion. You may be the one to inspire the momentum to finally get out of their trench.
We Can't Fear Conflict
When we see others in need, we have to stand up for them, not just because Wonder Woman sets such a good example, but because that is what scripture teaches.
Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
James 4:17, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
There is going to be some situations in our lives where God is sending us in to bring peace, resolve conflict, and do his work. Sometimes we are the ones who have to go up the ladder, and when those times come we must rely on God's strength, cast off our fear, and climb.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle we have in our faith is our own sense that we have all the answers. When we are too wise in our own perception, we sometimes lose the ability to be corrected, instructed, or guided. That goes for God and the people God places in our life. Diana struggled with that through her whole journey. She knew more than her mother, she knew better than Steve, and she clearly was wiser than everyone else. While sometimes her determination was empowering, sometimes it also let her down. Steve tried to talk her down from her focus on Ares to fight the fight that was right in front of her, but she wasn't able to let go of what she thought she knew.
Diana Prince: I will stop Ares!
Steve Trevor: What if you’re wrong? What if there’s no Ares?
Diana Prince: You don’t believe me.
Steve Trevor: I cannot let you do this.
Diana Prince: What I do is not up to you.
When she finally catches up to Ludendorff and defeats him, she finds that she was wrong, and all the answers she thought she had weren't the truth.
Diana Prince: I killed him, but nothing stopped. You kill the God of War, you stop the war.
Steve Trevor: Exactly what we have to do now. We need to stop the gas. Come on.
Diana Prince: No, all this should have stopped.
Steve Trevor: Diana…
Diana Prince: The fighting should have stopped. Why are they doing this?
Steve Trevor: I don’t know! I don’t know.
Diana Prince: Ares is dead. They can stop fighting now. Why are they still fighting?
Steve Trevor: Because maybe it’s them! Maybe people aren’t always good. Ares or no Ares Maybe it’s just, who they are.
It's important for us as God's people to be teachable. When we aren't teachable, we fight, divide, and end up with a million denominations, hypocrisy, and a lack of unity. We have to learn to actually let God be our guide instead of our own self righteousness.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death." - Proverbs 14:12
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2
When we let God be our guiding understanding instead of our own biased opinion, we will be able to see where our real battles lie. We will see where compassion and determination are needed and how to be effective in each situation. Wonder Woman spent so much time chasing Ares and ignoring everything in front of her that she missed who the real villain was. God sends us out into the world, and we are not only facing opposition from the world, but from Satan. While Ares is pretty crafty, he has nothing on Satan. We, just like Diana, can get so distracted by whats in front of us that we miss when we are actually in danger. Peter warns us that we cannot let our guard down.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” -1 Peter 5:8-9
If we aren't letting God guide us, and we aren’t being alert, we are likely to be blindsided just like Diana. Ares was right beside her the whole time, but he didn’t always attack. In fact, he helped her on several occasions. We need to remain vigilant. A lack of conflict doesn't mean our enemy isn't present. Our enemy will stand right beside us through every success, just waiting for us to fall. Our enemy will placate us, give us easy options, and sidetrack us. He doesn't have to actually defeat us, he just needs to get in the way of the victory God has called us to. We have to be prepared to stand against him. You can be sure as long as you are following God, your enemy is following you. Be prepared
When Wonder Woman finally faced Ares he tried to persuade her from her purpose, and your enemy will do the same.
Ares: I am not the god of war, Diana. I am the god of truth. Mankind stole this world from us. They ruined it, day by day. And I, the only one wise enough to see it, was left too weak to stop them. Look at this world. Mankind did this, not me. They are ugly filled with hatred, weak.
Satan isn't likely to throw tanks at you or shards of metal or have giant fiery explosions, but like Ares, he is likely to lie to you, distract you, and deceive you. Be ready. When you leave your comfort zone, when you stand out, and when you embrace conflict, you will have someone targeting you.
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." - James 4:7-8.
Wonder Woman's "god killer" was pretty much worthless as a weapon to combat Ares, but with Satan, we don't have to worry about destroying our enemy. We simply need to resist when he attacks. Get close to God, and He will handle the rest.
The world needs more heroes like Wonder Woman, but even more so it needs Christians that actually live out their faith. That have a clear understanding of what they are here for. By the end of the movie, Wonder Woman had a clear understanding of her mission. This is what she concludes:
"I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their mind and learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever."
We know that only Christ can bring the change the world needs, the love that will make us whole, the purpose we long for, and the grace that covers our failures. We know that He has called us to be the present force of those things here and now. It's going to take us rising up. We need to get out of our comfort zones, stand out, face conflict, let God be our understanding, and be ready for whatever our enemy throws at us. Now climb the ladder, and head into No Man's Land.