Sunday afternoon, I watched the long-awaited and much-anticipated movie, The Black Panther. I thought it was excellent. But, when it comes to super-hero movies, I’m easy to please!
The Black Panther is both a super-hero and the king of the fictional nation of Wakanda; a small central-African nation, presenting itself to the world as poor and “third world,” while concealing incredible wealth and advanced technology. Tradition, and fear, have kept the advanced Wakandan society hidden from the world, for generations, all-the-while possessing gifts that could address the world’s greatest needs.
Underlying the primary story-line of the movie are questions about Wakanda’s purpose. Should Wakanda remain hidden from the world, keeping its precious gifts to itself? Or, should Wakanda use it’s technology to improve, or possibly punish, the world? Are these gifts to be shared, protected, or hoarded? Does Wakanda exist for itself, and its personal hoard? Or, does Wakanda exist for the sake of the world?
Not surprisingly, I couldn’t help but think of the Church. We also have a treasure the world desperately needs. We, the Church, also struggle with the purpose of our existence. Do we exist for ourselves? Or, do we exist for the world? Are we a kingdom in hiding, or a kingdom advancing across the earth? Is this treasure intended for us to keep to ourselves? Or, is the treasure meant to be shared?
Many would argue the Church isn’t hidden, that our doors are open, and that our treasure (God) is available to all. True. But, I would argue thousands drive by our churches every day, with no knowledge or understanding of what we are, what we do, or why we do it. For all practical purposes, we might as well be hidden.
But, we don’t have to be. We have the greatest treasures of all (God, and each other), and there’s more than enough to share. We have treasures the world needs. We have treasures that can change the world.
Every Marvel movie has an added post-credit scene – sometimes more than one. In one of the two post-credit scenes, the Black Panther, as King T’challa, stands before the United Nations, announcing Wakanda’s plans to share its treasures with the world. One of the UN delegates, not knowing what Wakanda has hidden, ignorantly asks, “What can a third-world nation, like Wakanda, possibly have to offer us?” The scene ends with T’challa smirking.
Perhaps the world is asking the same of the Church. “What can the Church possibly offer the world?” We know. Lets show them!