Steve Rogers. Britt Reid. Tony Stark.
Do any of these names ring a bell? Okay…how about Peter Parker? Bruce Wayne. Here we go – Clark Kent!
Yep…you got it. Superheroes, in their not-so-super everyday selves.
I haven’t given this much thought since the days of watching Clark Kent dash into a phone booth where he would transform from a bumbling geek into the Man of Steel, until a phone conversation I had last week with my son Jake. Eli, my four-year-old grandson has an unwavering love for superheroes, which now spans, oh at least two years. But the thing that caught my attention was when Jake told me that Eli has taken to not only learning all of the superheroes “real” names, but pretends to be them through out the day. Not Batman, but Bruce. And when he is Iron Man, he asks to be called Tony.
I liked that – that a four-year-old can recognize that even Super Heroes have to wash their uniforms. And it made me think about Jesus, the Ultimate Super Hero. I mean, He was God. But He made his entrance as a helpless baby, through a dirty barn and grew up in a po-dunk town called Galilee – a carpenter! I bet He got splinters and His mom reminded him to wear a coat. When it was time for Him to step into His three-year ministry before His death, people said, “Wait a minute! Isn’t that the carpenter’s son from Galilee?” He was disqualified by His humanity. He was just like us, even ordinary.
– who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:6,
It was almost like God was pointing to us, with all of our desire for pomp and position and saying, “You missed it!” Jesus is reclining at a table with sinners, He is crossing a lake to pray for one crazy lunatic that lives in a graveyard. He’s playing with kids. Then just when you think you know Him, He’s raising someone from the dead, healing the blind and casting out demons. Whoa! Super hero action! But what I love is He didn’t have to change costumes or assume a new identity. He was showing us that this is what following Him looks like. Sometimes thinking about what you’ll make for dinner, sometimes praying for someone to be healed – from sickness, addiction, depression or fear. It may be just taking the time to love and listen.
Oswald Chambers said,
We have a tendency to look for the marvelous in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or, “What a great woman of devotion she is!”
Sometimes you feel like a Super Hero when you follow Jesus, and sometimes you feel like the loneliest person on earth. But when we allow God to use our lives in any way, at any time and He is glorified, you need nothing else on this planet. There just is nothing better.
Eli and his brother Leo both have Hulk masks, and when they put them on I have to pretend that I am terrified of a four-year-old and a two-year old. I scream and ask them what happened to Eli and Leo and they whip the masks off with sheer joy shouting, “Here we are!” and I sigh in feigned relief. Even they understand that you just can’t sustain a Super Hero life for long. We need naps.
Intuitively we know there’s more to this than what we see; there’s power, supernatural power just beyond our reach, but I think we also know there’s a price. They followed Jesus for the miracles, but when He challenged them in their faith, most walked away sad or mad. It costs, and He never chased anyone down.
Eli might be Bruce Banner or Peter Parker today but he’s got it right. Though we all want to be a super hero, true heroes are made in the everyday grind of life. If my life is hid with Christ, then you will see Him, and His glory, no matter what I do. The task itself is unimportant. I’m just Robin (no relation to Batman) but He is the biggest and best Super Hero ever; Mighty to Save, to Rescue and Redeem – and to use just ordinary folks like us.
He is Emmanuel – “God with us.”