Faith & Fandom
Wonder Woman: Not Of This World
Diana Troy is the Amazon Princess from the Land of Themyscira. This secluded island is not only geographically distant and isolated from the rest of the world, but in some incarnations is a place that exists on a separate plane of existence. This place is populated by a race of Amazon warriors that have purposely separated themselves from the world of mankind and the struggles that come with it. Diana is sent out from her own world and is charged with the job of bringing peace to the rest of the world. This seems like a pretty insane task for one person to take on, especially a warrior who is a stranger to the world she is supposed to bring peace to. Over the years the various details of Wonder Woman’s origins have changed slightly with the times, but much of this core identity has remained the same. She is a person from another world, gifted with supernatural abilities, and is to dwell in this world and change it for the better rather than letting the world change her. That is something we really have in common with Wonder Woman because in a lot of ways, that is exactly the mindset of the plan God has for us in this world as followers of Jesus Christ. Personally though, I'm just glad God doesn’t have it in his plan for me to wear a star spangled unitard to take on this mission.
Jesus knew that, like Wonder Woman, we are not of this world. We don’t belong here. But we are here for a purpose, and that is to make this world better. Now Wonder Woman’s way would involve diplomacy, politics, and the occasional chaos involving bullets bouncing off of metallic bracelets, shield bashing, and some pretty handy lasso work. Jesus had a different approach for believers. He laid this out as He was praying for us the night he was arrested.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 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. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:13-23)
Jesus knew that being in this world would be hard for His followers. He knew that the world would be hateful toward them and that they would suffer. Instead of wanting them out, He asked God to make them stronger, to protect them, and make them more like Him. He sends us into the world like God sent Him. We just have to be extremely cautious that we don’t become like the world while we are in it. That’s a really fine line we have to be careful not to cross, but it’s made even harder by the fact that very few people can agree or actually define what being worldly looks like. To some people, even talking about super heroes while discussing Jesus is worldly. To other people, it would be about your lifestyle, your music taste, but I think ultimately it’s a heart condition. We need to be in the world, but if we don’t make a difference or stand out, we become part of the problem.
Look at what John teaches us in 1 John 2:15-17:
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
That sounds really harsh right? It’s not just John though. Check out what James says. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Jesus wants us in the world, but James and John teach us not to love the world or be friends with it. It’s a serious struggle. I remember being in youth group and being taught that if you listened to music with curse words in it, wore certain clothes, watched rated-R movies, or were best friends with someone who wasn’t a Christian, then you were being worldly. I can’t tell you how many times I trashed CD’s, movies, or stuff like that because I kept thinking I was breaking a big rule.
Here’s what I want you to understand: being like the world is a bigger concept than what you wear or watch. It’s about where your focus, desire, and heart lie. Jesus tells us in Mark 7:15 that “nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” Even more so, Jesus teaches us that, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). If our focus, our heart, and our treasure is in the earthly things of this world, then it will overtake us. If our treasure (what we value most) becomes things the world offers instead of things God offers, we drop the ball on the mission Jesus left us here to complete in the first place.
Wonder Woman had spent decades in this world, and at times she may have blended in and even taken the secret identity of Diana Prince; but even though she blended into this world, she still stayed set apart from it. One of the times Wonder Woman truly fell from grace and became a part of the world she was trying to save though was in the story “Infinite Crisis.” The world was at stake. Heroes and villains were fighting, and it reached a climactic point where Wonder Woman had a villain named Maxwell Lord bound by the lasso of truth. As the entire world watched, she broke his neck and killed him. She did it to save the world, but murdering someone so coldly even though it saved lives was of the world, not Wonder Woman. People saw the hero that so many looked up to hit rock bottom and become no better than the villain she was fighting. People’s hopes and faith in Wonder Woman and the hero community plummeted. People didn’t trust them anymore. She no longer represented the mission of peace. She no longer represented superheroes. She no longer even represented the title she carried. It was a really hard time for superheroes.
Sadly this is what happens when believers slip into the world and let the destructive parts of this world change who we are as believers. Not being of this world isn’t about being super strict or keeping a big list of rules. Instead, it’s about showing the world that you are different. It’s about showing the world that is lost and doesn’t know Jesus that there is something more, like a peace that passes understanding and that there is joy, even in suffering. We can show that there is abundant life, even here in this broken world. When we become like this world, we can’t show this world any of those things.
That is why we see this scripture in James 1:27, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Jesus loves this world. God loves this world. We know this. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” We are called to love this world too, but we just have to be careful not to let our love FOR this world turn into a love OF this world. Please know that even if you don’t wear a costume, armor, or embody super powers, you are in this world for a mission, for a purpose, and this world needs to see you as Jesus desired. Represent Him well.