Almost every major story or movie involves the good guys versus the bad guys. In most of them, the bad guys lose. I recently watched the movie Lone Survivor and was reminded how often we frame stories like this. In the movie (and even the trailers), there are clear references to the enemy as the bad guy and the fact that the Navy Seals are the good guys.
But the problem is that this is a false dichotomy. There are no good guys or bad guys. There are just people. People who make choices both good and bad. Certainly, some people’s lives are characterized by a dominance of loving choices or a dominance of selfish choices. But we are all capable of both and indeed we all experience both in our own lives. Some of the best stories include characters who you disliked at one point and then loved at another point in the story. We refer to them as a dynamic characters and they make for a much stronger story than a cartoonish depiction of a good or bad guy.
I had a conversation with my son Gavin this week. As I was laying him to bed for the night he asked me, “Dad, will Jesus protect me from bad guys?” I struggled with providing him with a theologically sound answer that makes sense to a five year old. It’s tempting to simply tell him “yes” and allow him to go to sleep feeling better. But even at his age, I want my son to learn that life is deeper than that. I told him that Jesus will always be with him, but that Jesus also loves the bad guys. He looked confused by this.