Attack on Titan, Episode 34: Who is the Enemy?

Reiner is so very confused. At one point in episode 34, after joining with his partner, Bertholdt, to kidnap Ymir and Eren, he complains about how he needs a break and promotion from the military. The problem is that Reiner isn’t a soldier; he’s the enemy, but he’s lived as a soldier for so long and cared for his fellow cadets so deeply that he now has a hard time separating his role as warrior and his infiltration as soldier.

Reiner is confused. Eren is confused (and angry, of course). The audience is confused. It’s a jumbled mess as the story moves us along regarding the mystery of the titans.

I get confused sometimes, too, about what roles we play, especially in the church. I know who the enemy is, and I don’t misinterpret that, nor my allegiance to God as the church fights the good fight. But I wonder, sometimes, about my own comrades.

The church is a wonderful thing. It’s not perfect, but when it’s working right, it brings praise to God, reaches out to those in need, and is a loving body of people who are there for one another. Too often in America, though, the church has warped into something else, something judgmental and angry and political, something that pushes others away instead of embracing them with grace and the gospel truth. We sure do sometimes stand on a lofty height, looking down on non-Christians, as if we aren’t all on the same level ground looking upward at a holy, loving God.

I think this conservative, evangelical culture (and not all churches by any means – my church is evangelical and I think we generally do things right) has shown me more and more the “beauty of sinners.” I value the time I spend with people who are unchurched, and I certainly feel more comfortable around them and more loving toward them than I do around the “greater than thou” group. I’m understanding, I believe, a little more why Jesus spent so much time in the company of “sinners” and so little with the Pharisees.

But it’s ultimately a sad thing, because the people of the church are my partners. They are my comrades in arms, hopefully fighting with me in faith and truth and grace. It’s alarming, then, that I even have to ask myself this question: who, really, is the enemy?

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