John Walker vs. Discernment

Dozens of people, phones out, stand in shock, desperation, and fear. They stand in a public square in Latvia watching a man called Captain America slam his shield on a screaming, unarmed man. Over and over. Killing the man.

When the announcement came out about a new man being deemed Captain America by the US Gov’t. there was a lot of confusion. How could they just give that to someone else? Who is this guy? They were replacing a man who was worthy of wielding Mjolnier, Thor’s Hammer, which could only be held, let alone used, by a worthy person. The decision to replace him, especially without his knowledge and without input from Steve Rogers, was at best risky and at most foolish, but in reality. disastrous.

This man, caught in the heat of battle, reacted to the death of his friend. He didn’t take the time to discern if this guy should be chased. He didn’t run after the person who did kill his buddy, he just chased the Flagsmasher he saw running, automatically assigned blame to him, and assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier was about a lot of things. The confusion of a post-Blip world, the role that heroes have in it; and the question of moving on for people from various groups. The legacy of Captain America was at the forefront and this man, John Walker, was handed it by a government that was so focused on controlling this new world that they were not using discernment for who they chose, forgetting how careful Doctor Erskin was in choosing. Walker was so angry at his friends death that he chose not to use discernment.

I looked up discernment and the listing for it in Merriam-Webster was…not very discerning. You know that rule about not using the word in its own definition? Yeah, it was there. Oddly, I found the discription in Wikipedia more helpful. Here are both definitions for you to consider.

1. the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure skill in discerning.

2. an act of perceiving or discerning something


Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well (or the activity of so doing). In the case of judgement, discernment can be psychological, moral or aesthetic in nature.


In a short video from 12Stone Church, that seems to have been from a Q&A session, the speaker gives this concept that discernment at its core is separating truth from lies. Yet in that notion we do have some things that are unclear because situations are often confusing. Things are not always black and white. Financial and career decisions aren’t normally laid out for us in scripture. Jesus didn’t give us deep instructions on those kinds of issues but He did promise us that the Holy Spirit would help us. He expects us to use the wisdom we get form the Spirit and James 1:5 tells us that if any of us lacks wisdom we should ask for it. His teachings often took us deeper into our own motivations and challenged us to discern those motivations before making a decision or before reacting to someone else.

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.

John 7:24

John Walker, caught in the heat of the battle, lost the truth that he did not need to kill the man, amidst the rage that came from Lemar’s death. He had to choose between rage and taking a moment to understand what was going on. While the man was part of the group fighting them, he was not the one to kill Lemar. Walker did not make that distinction. Someone had killed him but not the man He chose to kill in his rage. Steve Rogers did kill in some situations, but it was not in rage or anger. It was in the heat of battle but he didn’t kill defeated opponents.

To most of us the situation seems simple. The guy was defeated, stop slamming the shield on him. Admittedly there are emotions involved; but part of discernment is putting aside your emotions and judging more carefully.

Think about this hypothetical: you hear two men speak on a tough social subject. One is extremely blunt, might not choose his illustrations well, and has a different ideology than culture; but he is respectful. Bad communication but good or reasonable points. The other man is hateful toward those who believe a set ideology and might even have great communication but not a good heart. Both men are loud and passionate and would agree with each other in theory, but their hearts are different. On the surface they look very similar but they treat people differently. Can you tell the difference between the two? Do you look for what is deep in the heart or just what is on the surface?

How you respond to the two men in the hypothetical above should be different. The hateful man should be challenged because of his heart. This means telling him he is wrong if you have that place in his life; or pointing him toward scriptures on love and the human heart. If you don’t know him well you might just move on. Don’t publicize his hatred for him. The respectful man should be understood, which means asking questions. Get to know him better and allow him to learn from you so he can communicate better. Pray for both of them.

I encourage you to read James 3:13-18 and chew on it. Think about it. Ask yourself some hard questions as you read it. Then pray for wisdom. Ask God for help in discerning tricky situations.

If you want another read inspired by Falcon and the Winter Soldier, check out Hector Miray’s article here.

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