On January 29, 2018, the movie Black Panther was released in Los Angeles, California. Whether you were a marvel fan or not, Black Panther was the movie of the time. To see a black superhero on the big screen brought an uncontainable celebration of black people everywhere. Whether you were from the Motherland or part of the Diaspora we were all one people that day.
My husband and I bought ourselves dashiki’s just to wear for the movie. Black Twitter had video after video of our people proudly celebrating in theaters across the nation. Needless to say, Black Panther will forever be a part of the must-see classic films in black households everywhere.
There were many things to love about this movie but one thing that was clearly felt by so many viewers is that you fell in love with both T’Challa and Killmonger. You loved the hero, but you also at least really liked the villain. Killmonger was very relatable, and you understood where he was coming from. T’Challa was a man of character and integrity, a prime example of strong, fully masculine male leadership that did not oppress the skills and abilities of the women who served with him. He instead empowers them. He honors his mother and father while still being true to himself. He grows and learns how to lead Wakanda. He loves his family, is playful with his younger sister. He has a soft spot for Okoye and freezes at the sight of her. I mean, what’s there not to love?
Then you have Killmonger, the villain. He grew up in Inglewood, California, suffering under systemic oppression and racism. His father teaches him about the wonderful country of Wakanda, a land abounding in beauty, plentiful in resources, where he is royalty. His father is wrongly killed by his brother, the King, and Killmonger is left to fend for himself. As he matures, he becomes a black op for the CIA because one day he is going to fight for his right to the throne. He is willing to do whatever it takes, even murder, to gain access to the throne and use the wealth and power of Wakanda to help himself and all oppressed people in the world.
You can understand from Killmonger’s perspective why he was so desperate to take the throne. Not only did he have to live with the injustice done to him and his father, but he still lived in this oppressed world in California, while knowing there was a place with all the resources necessary to end the suffering. It almost feels right for Killmonger to rebel and go against the law to enact justice. Is it not right to avenge his father’s wrongful death? Should not the prosperous use their resources to help those in need?
How do you respond when you see the corrupt systems in place that help some prosper while others continue to suffer? What do you do when you see those who lie, cheat, and scheme to get their profits with no repercussions while you still struggle to make ends meet? Where do you turn when it seems as though honorable work to provide for your family just does not meet the mark?
“Those who reject the Most High will too be rejected.”
— Melanated Truth
When we see things from our earthly perspective, it’s easy to believe that one’s circumstances justify the means. It’s easy to slip into the mindset that doing wrong, like everyone else, will lead to the right that you long for. In psalm 73, the psalmist here explains that he is filled with envy because his life does not come with the same amount of ease and comfort as the wicked. He is tempted to desert the ways of God because it feels vain. It seems like the life he wants is given to those who reject God. It took him coming into the sanctuary of God to see things differently. Only then was he able to step back and keep his feet from stumbling.
When he came into God’s sanctuary, he was led to look at things from an eternal perspective. He remembered that the wicked never truly prevail. They may seem to be winning at a certain moment in time but how swiftly do they come to ruin. And if the wicked do not come to ruin in this life, they have an eternal judgment waiting for them. Those who reject the Most High will too be rejected.
But what happens when we forget to come to God with our envy? What happens when we try to enact justice on our own, even when our motives are right? We justify the compromises we make to attain the things we long for. Whether we’re longing for justice or rest from the struggles of life. It only takes one step, one seemingly small compromise to stumble. And what happens when we stumble? Where does all sin always lead to? Death.
Once Killmonger becomes king he immediately starts implementing his plans to supply the world with vibranium. He does not heed the advice of his council. As he sends weapons to different cities around the world, a civil war erupts. T’Challa, who thought had died, miraculously comes back and defeats Killmonger.
The end to all those who forsake God is certain death.
What are some practical steps we can take to keep our feet from stumbling when tempted to forsake God.
- Enter the sanctuary of God. Whatever it is that you envy or the justice you deeply long for, bring them to God. Whatever thoughts that try to convince you to compromise your integrity, bring them to God. Let the Holy Spirit comfort you and remind you of what’s true. Do not try to understand from your limited viewpoint. Sit still before God, bear your soul to Him, and allow Him to give you understanding.
- Trust God to be God. Above all, it is important that we trust God to be Lord and not ourselves. This is the constant inner fight. When things aren’t going the way we expected or wanted, we try to take control and make things happen. We convince ourselves that small compromises are not really that bad, maybe they are even necessary to reach the good we intend. No matter how intense our feelings, we cannot elevate ourselves to the position of lord. When we do we forsake God and come to our own destruction. We must have the faith to trust God to be Lord and honor Him in all we do.
May our hearts reflect the spirit of this psalmist.
“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart… For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
Psalm 73:1, 27-28 ESV