Detective stories have evolved dramatically through the years, becoming ever more violent as the real world has become an increasingly dangerous place to live. One fictional detective who will live forever in infamy is Dick Tracy – one of the grittiest, tough-as-nails crime fighters ever put into a comic strip.
Charles Gould, the creator of the comic, sought to reflect the violence found in the daily headlines of the Chicago newspaper during the 1930s. The result was Dick Tracy, the most violent cartoon strip of its time. From its gritty artwork and sinister villains to its modern detective work and gruesome crimes, Dick Tracy went down into history as an artistic reflection of an extremely dark time in Chicago’s history.*
Fortunately for Dick Tracy, his world was very black and white. The villains were obviously evil incarnate, something which was even evident in their appearance. From Pruneface, a Nazi spy whose name describes him surprisingly well, to Flattop Jones, a “hitman for hire” with a giant flat head and a spectacular unibrow, there was no mistaking who you could – and couldn’t – trust.
Compare this with our world today. Modern criminals know how to blend into a crowd, and the anonymity of the Internet allows them to mask their activities even more. The very real dangers of our present society would even be enough to send a chill down Dick Tracy’s spine!
This is especially true for modern Christians, who “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). Spiritual warfare is painfully real, and it is something Christians face each day.
But instead of a black-and-white struggle reminiscent of the Dick Tracy era, the Christian’s enemies are not always so easy to spot. Jesus said that false teachers “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
What should we do? Run for cover? Hide in our closets, afraid to make a move or take a stand for Christ?
Absolutely not. Instead, the Bible tells us to “stand firm in the faith” and “act like men,” (I Corinthians 16:13), starting each day by putting on “the whole armor of God” and preparing for battle (Ephesians 6:10-18).
It’s a bold strategy – and it’s a good strategy.
Even Dick Tracy would approve.