Sometimes I wish that the world was a little more like pro wrestling.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have any burning need to have more large half naked men in my life, but there are some aspects of the drama that are attractive.
Much like real life, pro wrestling is peppered with betrayal. Unlike real life, pro wrestling has the decency to punctuate betrayal with a steel chair to the back, a Super Kick to the head, and a mustache twirling speech about how foolish we have all been for believing in our supposed hero in the first place.
In 2005, before his ear exploded on a UFC pay-per-view and before he became the longest running world champion in WWE’s modern era, CM Punk was about to become Ring of Honor World Champion. Punk had been a fan favorite since first entering the promotion, but mostly worked a heel persona based on his real life abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Straight edge meant that he was “better than you”… harnessing a kind of agnostic fundamentalist condescension.
Toward the end of his run with Ring of Honor, he dropped his heel character and turned “baby face”, finally allowing the crowds that long loved him to cheer for him as well.
That all changed on June 18, 2005, when CM Punk won the ROH World Championship. Still trailing the streamers behind him that were thrown to celebrate his victory, Punk promptly revealed that his change of heart had all been a ploy. He had played them all for fools. He was the devil who had convinced Ring of Honor that he didn’t exist.
This was the beginning of Punk’s exit from ROH in particular, and independent wrestling in general, having recently signed a contract with WWE. The anthem that symbolized his last few months spent tormenting the fans who loved him was his new entrance music, Cult of Personality by Living Colour.
That song has been in my head a lot lately.
We so rarely, if ever, have the villain revealed so clearly to us. When the wolf makes his way into a community of sheep, he doesn’t whip off his wool clothing and start slaughtering the sheep… someone might see a fang now and again, but the only real proof that there is a wolf around is when sheep start to disappear or bodies start showing up.
When the wolf looks into the mirror, he sees a sheep.
“When the mirror speaks, the reflection lies.”
The wolf isn’t satisfied with merely being seen as a sheep, the sheep costume merely gets them in the door. When Jesus warns of those who outwardly seem to be sheep, but are truly ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15), he is warning of false prophets. The wolf posing as a sheep is ultimately posing as one who speaks for God.
The title of this post is a line from Cult of Personality, and there is one more that deserves some attention.
“You give me power in your God’s name.”
More than anything else, that is the power that the wolf in sheep’s clothing will wield, the name of God. Our scriptures are loaded with examples of writers going out of their way to not mention God’s name at all, for fear of using it in vain, but this is the chief power of the wolves that are in our midst. They leverage the name of God in order to fill their bellies with mutton.
All of this is a shrouded reality. Often the only ones who sees the truth behind the fiction are those who are about to be set on by the wolf. After that happens the wool is once again pulled over the wolf to conceal his true nature, as well as over the eyes of the sheep. No one wants to believe the rumors of wolf attacks because to question the mouth full of fangs is to question the mouth that has proclaimed God to them.
It’s enough to make you wish that Pastor Wolf would kick off service be clocking a congregant in the head with a steel chair, bare his teeth for the whole congregation to see, and tell them all what stupid stupid little sheep they have been.
… but no, the charade must go on, we must continue to grow the cult of personality.