by Timothy Mager
Did you recently see one of the movies in the Marvel Avengers series? These films appear very entertaining, as a group of superheroes work together to overcome the evil guys who attempt to destroy peoples’ lives on earth for their own, selfish gain. All hail the avengers, right? Who wouldn’t want to be one of those guys? Although these movies are fiction, created by Hollywood from comic books published 50 years ago, you may be surprised to learn that the Bible describes what it means to be an avenger and who God has placed in the role of being an avenger. Does God want you and me to be avengers like those Marvel superheroes? Read on to find out!
Our initial discussion in determining our stance on being avengers is to look at the definition of the word. A quick Google search reveals that an avenger is someone looking to punish someone who has mistreated them or performed a wrong action against them. Avenging may be commonly referred to as getting revenge with the intent of believing justice will be done. When we watch the avengers using their superpowers to defeat the villains and avenge earth, do we not see them doing a righteous service in helping their fellow human beings?
I mean, who doesn’t want to see the dark lord, Thanos, wiped out for causing half of our favourite heroes to be turned to ash at the end of the popular film, Infinity War? Should we avenge ourselves against those who would try to harm us physically or verbally, even in the Church?
As mentioned, the Bible gives specific instruction on whether we should be an avenger or not. The Apostle Paul instructed the Church in Thessalonica by writing, “that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother… because the Lord is the avenger of all…” (1 Thessalonians 4:6). This verse assures us that whether we want to avenge ourselves or someone who has been hurt by another, God will ultimately be our avenger.
Should we wait for God or choose to take these matters into our own hands? How should we respond if someone tries to hurt our reputation by speaking falsely of us or wanting us to suffer although we may be innocent of wrongdoing? Romans 12:19 provides the answer for those wanting to follow God’s way of life. Paul writes in his epistle, “…do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” God specifically tells us He wants to do us a favour. All we need to do is take the burden off our own shoulders and give all our problems to Him. By praying to Him and asking for His will to be done, He will deal with those who want to cause us harm. It is not our job to act in the role of an avenger.
However, God does give certain people the authority to be an avenger. This important role is given to those who have been placed in authority over us such as the ministry or even our nation’s government. Paul writes to those who would cause us harm, “…if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4). Unless we are given the responsibility to be an avenger, God wants us to leave it with Him through those He has chosen to perform the avenging on our behalf. Even if we think repaying someone who has hurt us is the right thing to do, we must let God take care of it.
Jesus Christ has given us a promise of encouragement if you have been hurt in a certain way at school, work or even while participating in an event such as a local sports competition. He famously spoke during His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:10-11). With these words, we may know one special truth. God is our Father, our superhero and, ultimately, our avenger!