I was a comic book junkie as a kid. It didn’t matter if it was the heroes of Marvel or DC, or the antics of the Archies, Beetle Bailey or Scrooge McDuck, I enjoyed reading comic books. And they were educational: I won the 4th grade spelling bee (and got stuffed in a trash can by grumpy losers) because I knew “counterfeit” from comic books….
Comic book heroes have been popping up a lot recently. One friend was geeked out and blogged on upcoming superhero movies, with Captain America, Thor and a new X-men flicks near the top of his list to see (and mine!) Yesterday, our pastor mentioned that he actually isn’t a comic book/superhero movie fan… why? Well, I’ll get to that later.
So, why do we like superheroes anyway? There’s something in the whole “zero transforms to hero” plot that we identify with – we like the average guy that is empowered and can suddenly do more than he ever could in the past. Shy, quiet Peter Parker is transformed into the incredible Spiderman by a radioactive spider bite. Steve Rogers is a scrawny weakling transformed by medical technology into an incredible specimen of a soldier (aka Captain America). We root for these guys to fulfill their destiny and overcome whatever evil obstacle is looming because we have a natural longing in our heart to be transformed into something more ourselves. We want to do something great, to make an impact in the world around us… but we quickly relegate ourselves to the sidelines because of our weaknesses, frailties and failures. We settle for being a “fan” rather than a “player” because we don’t think greatness is attainable for ourselves.
And this takes us back to why our pastor gets a bit annoyed with the superhero flicks: people identify with the unrealistic “made for movie” transformations of flawed characters turned super, yet at the same time, they reject the miraculous events and transformations of flawed people in the Bible as being “unrealistic”. And I get what our pastor is saying! We have this incredible transforming power available to us, but we don’t “activate” it – we idly watch the world go to “hell in a handbasket” around us while we sit on our hands, powerless (or unwilling?) to affect change.
That is the irony in all this: we have more power available to us than Iron Man, Peter Parker or Captain America combined. The One who spoke the universe into existence WANTS to work through us to change the world. The incarnate Son of God died and rose again and WANTS to share his resurrection power with and through us. Jesus told his disciples (and us in the church, by extension) in John 14:12 that “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing” and “will do even greater things than these.” We will do greater things than Jesus? Hmm… Jesus fed thousands, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, set captives free, brought the dead back to life. And for good measure, he died on the cross so that we could be forgiven and have restored relationship with the Father.
Are you a Christian? If so, Jesus’ promise is for you – if you have faith in Jesus, you can and will do “greater things than these.” Don’t know where to start? How about with the most important commandments: love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. In fact, this really applies to non-Christians too — whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, an atheist, or agnostic, if you truly “love your neighbor as yourself”, you are taking positive steps towards being a hero rather than a zero.
How can you love your neighbor as yourself? There are so many ways. Ever think about getting involved in relief work with the Red Cross or some other organization? Ever consider donating time as a Big Brother/Big Sister or coaching in youth programs? How about getting involved in the ministry of your local church? On a more personal level, have you ever reached out to someone that is hurting or needs help in your immediate circle? A coworker? A neighbor? A friend or relative? We don’t have to solve all the problems of the world, but if we can impact one person at a time with the love of God, that will make a difference too. Like Jesus said, “whatever you do for the least of these….” Want to see miracles or “superpowers” in action? Start loving people the way Jesus did.
Remember the movie scene: Ben Parker, is dying in the arms of his nephew, Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), and tells him, “remember, with great power comes great responsibility.” Now switch it up: Jesus is dying in your arms and tells you “with great power comes great responsibility”, then vanishes. You look up and the resurrected Jesus is standing there and says “come on, my friend… we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
So, what’s next in your movie?