Walter White died this past week.
The AMC network reported that 10.3 million viewers caught the Sunday night demise of the anti-hero of Breaking Bad, the series of a high school chemistry teacher-cum-drug lord.
It was a fitting, tragic end for “Heisenberg,” the street name of Walter White, played by Emmy-winning actor Bryan Cranston. Viewers knew it had to happen–and so it did in a blaze of machine gun bullets.
Before the violent denouement, the cancer-stricken Walter visited his estranged wife, Skyler, to give a bittersweet good-bye and catch a final glimpse of his two children. At one point, when Skyler thought that Walter was going to once again soft-peddle his heinous crimes, she growled, “If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family —”
“I did it for me,” Walt interrupted, a startling confession that revealed the black hole in his heart we knew was there all along. “I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really —” here he paused to accurately choose his words—”I was alive.”
We who possess a working conscience are horrified at the actions of Walter White. But are we as horrified when we peer into our own souls and discover the sins we are really good at–the ones that, at least in the beginning stages, make us feel really “alive”? I have known people who are experts in greed, pride, lust. I have run into church members who seem to relish spewing gossip and poisonous words. Others nurture subtle sins, even socially-acceptable ones such as wasting lots of time on social media or snarfing down a steady diet of junk food. I could tell you what sins I’m adept in, but you don’t have the time.
Walter White was good at cooking pure meth. Really good. In the end, his skillful sin left him alone, bleeding out on a floor, gasping for life. We, too, are good at our own transgressions. Hopefully they will not lead us to die in a drug lab while cops surround us with drawn weapons. But make no mistake: our sins will, in the end, destroy us, no matter how good they make us feel now (Romans 6:23a).
In case you don’t know, “breaking bad” is a street term for defiance and law-breaking. It is a free choice. So is “breaking good,” choosing to forsake the sins that God thought was worth coming to this world and dying for.