I do not recommend the show, Breaking Bad, but there’s a powerful scene in season four. A Christianity Today article talks about it and it strikes me as a word for the Church.
The plot of Breaking Bad revolves around two main characters. Walt is a high school chemistry teacher who, after getting a terminal diagnosis, decides to leave his middle-income job and begin manufacturing meth. Jesse is Walt’s former student-turned- accomplice.
At some point, Jesse becomes just miserable enough to attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Looking for some relief. These guys are in this deep and they’ve killed people and Jesse all but shares the worst of his sins. And the group leader says to him, “We’re not here to sit in judgment.” Jesse explodes. “Why not? Why not? … If you just do stuff and nothing happens, what’s it all mean? What’s the point? … So no matter what I do, hooray for me because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? No matter how many dogs I kill, I just—what, do an inventory, and accept?”
What he can’t accept is a world where grace is cheap, where repentance is a Hallmark card, where the cross has lost its power to transform lives.
Isn’t this what Paul preaches … over and over? Paul tells us there is a battle being waged. That the real enemies are not wearing flesh and blood. That in fact, things with skin on are not the real enemies. The real enemies are powers and principalities that would prefer us to keep secrets, lose moral compass, stay in the dark, play at this thing called church rather than actually being the church as Christ intended.
The Church has a powerful opportunity in this season when recovery is finding its voice in the mainstream. If we who lead will find the courage to speak aloud the names of those demons that haunt us, if we will call ourselves back to the basics that make our faith both rich and compelling, we can begin to build a new society with holiness as the cornerstone.
Isn’t that what made Jesus’ own life so irresistible? He had the audacity to actually live what he believed, consummately. Jesus absolutely embraced a theology of humility and holiness. He allowed holiness to sink deep into every nook and cranny of his life, to take root there, and bear fruit.
That is our calling, too. Nothing will cause the demons of this world to lose their power more quickly than the earnest, honest prayers of the church.