The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is awesome. There, I said it. Haters are gonna hate, hate, hate (to quote St. Taylor Swift). I’m giddy about going later today to see Dr. Strange. I’ll probably write about that some time down the road, but not today. To be honest, I’ve been wanting to write about Captain America: Civil War for a while but nothing had come to mind…until recently. Now say it with me in an eastern European accent “Mission Report. December 16, 1991.” Okay, if you don’t know what that means, go out, buy Captain America: Civil War, watch it, and then come back and read this. I’ll wait…ready?
Recently, I’ve been reading a whole bunch of books on the idea of discipleship. What does it mean really? What exactly is discipleship. To be honest, we’ve all had our own ideas. But thinking about Civil War, I began to think about what discipleship meant. And what it has to do with being a pilgrim with a group of pilgrims.
In Civil War, Cap and his old war time friend Bucky (Now the Winter Solider sans a real arm but with a really cool vibranium arm) set out to not only clear Bucky’s name after being accused of a terrorist act, but to also travel together to find out what the villain Zemo is trying to do. They have a cause. Tied up with all of this is the Sokovian Accords which wants all powered humans to register. But that’s besides the point. Kinda. Okay, that’s an important plot point. Long and short of it, Cap doesn’t like the Accords, Iron Man/Tony Stark thinks they are important and somewhere along the Line Agents of SHIELD have to deal with it (but that’s for a whole ‘nother post). People choose sides. Cap has his people, Iron Man has his. And they have an epic battle to say the least.
But what does this have to do with discipleship and being a pilgrim. Cap and Bucky are on a journey of self discovery of all things. As they pursue Zemo, they begin to learn more about Bucky’s past as the Winter Soldier. Bucky begins to learn more about himself. Cap walks with Bucky through this self discovery. You see, Captain America has a few more years under his belt dealing with the modern age since World War II than Bucky has (I mean, Bucky was alive as the Winter Solider but he was all brain washed and stuff and so couldn’t enjoy things like The Princess Bride). And so as they journey together, Cap walks with Bucky and helps him understand what it means to be a hero instead of a bad guy.
Bucky did a whole bunch of bad stuff. Including something big on December 16, 1991 (not gonna give spoilers at all). Bucky’s bad past holds him back. He doesn’t see any redemption or forgiveness form his past to be held on to in the present. How could he be forgiven for the awful things he had done even though he was brainwashed. Cap on the other hand sees the good in his old friend. He sees who Bucky can be rather than who he was.
And this is part of being a pilgrim. This is part of discipleship. As a follower of Jesus, I’m on a journey. I’m on a journey to becoming like Jesus in all ways possible. My pilgrim journey is to being fully with Jesus one day. I’m not there yet. It’s a time of discovery of who Jesus is, and how I can truly follow him. At the same time, I walk with other fellow followers of Jesus. Each on a different place on the path but still walking along side (trippy, I know). As a follower of Jesus, I help others walk this path. Some are uncertain. Some are wondering if this is the path for them. And so I too walk with them along this road of self discovery in Jesus. It isn’t an enlightenment but a new way of living, living in the way of Jesus. I am to see people not for what they’ve been, or done, but to meet them where they are at and help them become who they can be in Jesus.
This is what Cap eventually does for Bucky. He helps him see himself in light of being a hero. He helps him see himself not as a horrible person, but as a person who can do some good.
How can you walk along someone today? How can you be a fellow pilgrim and walk with someone helping them see themselves not as who they once were, but to see themselves as who they can be in Jesus?