Christianity and Lessons from the Blacklist!

Devotioal Thought of the Day:

 15  I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. 16  Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. 17  So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. 18  I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. 19  I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do. 20  If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me. 21  So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have. 22  My inner being delights in the law of God. 23  But I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body. 24  What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? 25  Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind, while my human nature serves the law of sin.   Romans 7:15-25 (TEV)

Liz: You’re a monster.
Red: Yes.
Liz: How can you live with that?
Red: By saving your life. (1)

With my schedule, I don’t get to watch television much, except when I am home sick, or occaisonally something dvr’d.

One of my favorites used to be Boston Legal – wihich surprised me, because I didn’t like any of the primary actors in it.  But I was amazed with the brilliance of how they worked together, and how the writers strived to find ways to take the broken charachters and send them hunting, often blindly for some sort of reconciliation, some sort of justice they found, despite themselves.  Have to admit, I became impressed with James Spader’s characterization.  Enough so, that when the Blacklist came about – I wanted to see it – just to see if he could be a truly evil charachter.

Have to admit – it is the only television show I really watch these days, usually a couple of days later, and always fascinated with the depth of depravity and yet, a quest for some kind of vindication.

There is a blunt acknowledgement of evil, a confession that is there, unaware that there is grace.  There is in each primary character – a questioning of the soul.  You see it in Liz, as she struggles with the evil of each case, and the questions about her husband.  You see it in Red, as he tries to help Liz, but also as he has his moments of solitude, (of course he goes and decides to do what he knows is wrong thereafter) you see it in the director, and in the partner.

There is an acknowledgement of our sinful selves, and attempts made to justify themseives by doing something good or noble or perfectly just.  Except they realize, as we do, that the harder we try, the more likely we fail.

That’s perhaps what I like about the show – it strips us, not from the idea that we are not sinners, but from the idea we can justify ourselves. That we can explain away our own shortcomings, our own falures, our own tendency to sin.  But it needs to go beyond that.

Luther wrote,

For although the whole world with all diligence has endeavored to ascertain what God is, what He has in mind and does, yet has she never been able to attain to [the knowledge and understanding of] any of these things. But here we have everything in richest measure; for here in all three articles He has Himself revealed and opened the deepest abyss of his paternal heart and of His pure unutterable love. For He has created us for this very object, that He might redeem and sanctify us; and in addition to giving and imparting to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has given to us even His Son and the Holy Ghost, by whom to bring us to Himself.  (2)

Red sees his own redemption in saving the life of another.  I don’t think he means just her physical life either, but the emotional and spiritual life that can be lost in their line of work.  (remember what he did before he went rogue)  Perhaps by ridding the world with more efficiently of the truly evil, he can help her save her life. He wants to be her savior, her Christ, Even so, he cannot.

Luther sees it differently, noting that God is the one who can do, and has done, what Red so longs to do.  He did come – and take on evil, personally as Christ carriest all our sin to the cross.  That’s what Paul is talking about as well – who can rescue us from the despair of living in the presence of Evil?  Only Christ.

Maybe we don’t see ourselves as the people on the balcklist – people beyond hope.  Maybe were the Liz, losing her naivete about the world, about mankind with every episode.  Maybe we’re Red, hoping beyond hpoe that we can save the next generation from turning into us.

What we need in each case – is to cry out to Jesus, the One who can save us, and has already provided all the means for our salvaiton, and more importantly, to leave anxiety over walking in evil behind, as we walk with Him.

We cry, “Lord, Have Mercy”  and know, and trust.. He has.


(2)  The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 24, 2014, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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