I grew up obsessed with Star Wars. It does my heart good to see a new round of movies and spin offs grabbing the hearts of a new generation. The less said about the prequel movies the better. I also lay belly down, head on my hands watching classic tv shows like Thundercats and He-Man. My toy box was full of Star Wars, Action Force and MASK toys with which I would run epic adventure and battle sequences around my bedroom and garden. I was always on the side of the goodies. Vader and Mum-ra always lost. Liono, Luke and Han always won.
Of course these shows appeal to something deep within our psyche that the world is binary. There are two kinds of people; good and evil and ultimately the good people will win. Whilst there are of course things in the world that show the propensity within humanity to commit hideous acts of evil and incredible acts of goodness this is a definition without nuance. Even the worst offenders are capable of loving their own children well. Within each of is the capacity to be simultaneously good and evil; cruel and loving.
Perhaps it is a hangover from a century of conflict; two world wars, a cold war and endless strife in the Middle East to name a few but Christianity has absorbed this binary understanding of humanity. Whether that is in the resurgence of strongly phrased 'us and them' theology around some being chosen by God and others not or the belief that 'the world' is out to get Christians, there is an obvious cultural trope within Christianity that we are the good people and 'they are the evil ones.
So when we come to verses like Romans 8:31, 'if God is for us then who can be against us.' It reads as a militaristic promise of victory over 'the others.' My Facebook timeline is often littered with this verse tacked on to a story about a Christian claiming persecution in the face of making choices to proselytise in the canteen at work despite repeated warnings not to, or a B and B owner being sued for evicting a couple who's lifestyle he disapproved of. The message in each case is clear, 'we will overcome these people. God is for us but not for them.'
Yet when Jesus died he died for the whole world. When he came to bless he came to bless the whole world. When God is for us, He is for all of us. When redemption of a situation comes it is the heart of God to redeem everyone involved. He is for the aggressor, yet he abhors their actions and may rise in defence of their victim. He is for all of us.
When God goes to war he does not go against people but against brokenness and pain. When God sends redemption he sends it to us all. He is for all of us, who could be against us. He doesn't fly the flag of the empire or the rebels, His Kingdom is everywhere and it for everyone.