One thing that people love is story. Our movies and books teach us of it. We critique it. We love it. We hate it. One thing we always look for is the interaction between protagonist and antagonist. We like to see the loved character triumph over or be vindicated against the antagonist.
We know we love it because we seem to look for it in everyday life. We have those things or people that we are against for some reason or another. Many of these people can follow the following patterns:
- Control of everything
- Purposeful contradiction (No focus on seeking possible common ground)
- Anger at opposition (Anyone who disagrees will be spited)
- Conviction that hurts others and themselves
This is what I call a Chaos Agent. To put it in Bible terms, this is Cain, it’s Pharaoh, its Saul later in life, Rehoboam oppressing the tribes of Israel, it’s the foreign Kings oppressing Israel, it’s Satan tempting Jesus in the desert, it’s the Pharisees with the heavy yoke, it’s Rome oppressing the Early Church.
From a Christian perspective, we have a unique way of understanding ourselves. I referred to the antagonist in our history as chaos agents. And that is always something that we meet and have to learn to deal with. What makes us unique is that we are agents of redemption. What that means is that although we are pressed in violence, whether physical or emotional, we carry the weight and seek a redemptive purpose in our story. Not just our own redemption, but the redemption of others as well. This means the antagonist in our lives needs redemption too. No matter the offence, they need that level of love, because we once received that love from God. A denial of this would lead us to hate, and in the end towards chaos.
One biblical example is in Genesis 1. God separates the waters. If you know your ancient Mediterranean history, you know that the waters were an agent of chaos and destruction. Mostly understood as the sea, the waters would create bad in any good situation.
But notice what God does. He takes the antagonist, and redeems it. He does not kill it, like some of the ancient myths say. He calms it, organises it, and makes it better.
And then later in this chapter, he makes us in His image. He is in essence saying, “Those out of control forces that were in the world, I tamed them, now I bless you with authority to do the same thing.”
Notice how this call counters the chaos agent:
- Others focus (instead of seeking your own good, you seek relational goods of the community)
- Leniency (or forgiveness)
- Seek common ground (even if in the end this turns out impossible)
- Accepting of differences (no matter how shocking or angering)
- Convictions that benefit others
That leads to the resolution of our conflict. Not a war, fight, or some random event destroying the antagonist, but redemption. In a sense the death of the antagonist is the changing of the antagonist. I guess that makes God the brilliant story writer.
Who is your antagonist? Do you want vindication? Or are willing to the protagonist that is a redeeming agent?