One of RVA’s themes this year has been superheroes. Our student planner notebooks featured quotes from comic books, and for our Titchie Field Day, we dressed up in our favorite superhero costumes. We all have a fascination with these characters. Superman is the stereotype. By day, he’s an ordinary man with an ordinary job, but when he passes through a telephone booth, he can fly and exercise a list of superpowers. We all dream of having some of these powers, and I believe this is in part because God meant for us to be superheroes. Sin, however, took away our powers, and we find that most of the time, we are just Clark Kents, Peter Parkers or Bruce Banners.
Comic Books vs. the Holy Book
In the comics, the source of the superheroes’ strength is not from themselves. It came from a spider bite, gamma rays or alien planetary conditions.
In the Bible, Peter reminds us that “his divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
In Psalm 18, David expresses his confidence in the Lord’s ability to make him a super warrior:
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul describes our hero-specific weapons:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
A HIGHER CALL
Superheroes are motivated by a cause higher than themselves. In the comics, it may be a damsel in distress or a terrorist attack to be thwarted. The Bible, too, makes clear our sanctified motivation:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5)
A LEAGUE APART
Superheroes also come together to pool their strength with others: the Avengers, the Justice League, the Fantastic Four…. And as Christians, we know that we are not a one-man show.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12)
Superheroes possess different and unique super senses—Superman seems to have the most. Christians, too, are promised a number of supernatural sensibilities.
- We have SUPER HEARING because we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit of God (1 Kings 19). Jesus also says “My sheep know my voice. They follow me and no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10)
- Paul had SUPER VISION. When he was approached by a lame man in Lystra, the Scriptures tell us “Paul saw that the man had faith to be healed.” (Acts 14)
COURAGE UNDER FIRE
Superheroes exhibit strength in the face of temptation from their enemy. There’s always an archenemy and an intense battle in comic books. The battle described in the Bible is no less fierce. As Christians, we possess spiritual armor that we are called to put on.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6)
- Who wants to be Clark Kent when we can be Superman? The Christian life is, by definition, a supernatural kind of life. To settle for anything less is to be sub-human.
- We lost a lot of things in the Fall when we lost our communion with God. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam and Eve were able to communicate with animals, nor would I be surprised if they could fly, if they simply asked God for the ability.
- Angels are like superheroes. They are invisible, able to fly, possess “superpowers”, and yet Scripture tells us they long to look into the things we humans experience. They are awed by the mystery of Christ’s redemption and our human restoration to superhero status. Angels no doubt marvel at the way a drug dealer can become missionary, an atheist can become a God-worshiper and a hardened criminal can become a law-abiding citizen.
- We shouldn’t settle for less than God’s best for us. He wants to change us and use us in ways beyond what we can even ask or imagine. Let’s let him do it.
This chapel message was delivered on Friday, May 16, 2014 to the student body of Rift Valley Academy.