Of Superheroes and Saints

On May 4th, I saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie.

Without spoiling anything, it will suffice to say the obvious: it was epic. And although I could write a fascinating post about Biblical parallels with certain superheroes and plot-lines, I will focus all my attention on a certain aspect that I find within every single superhero movie that I watch.

So to bring out this aspect, I will paint a picture which is of some vague resemblance to one of the battle scenes that I remember watching:

The small band of nine-ish superheroes stands back to back, facing their present foe with his massive army behind him. It appears as though that these few superheroes are outnumbered a thousand to one, but as their foe gives his signal to attack, this band charges into the fray with one accord! The magnificent soundtrack music in the background begins, adding to the glory of the scene as each superhero aids the other in kill, after kill, after kill. From every direction, the enemy is leaping and bounding, but each offensive attempt is met with an equal, yet greater force by the superheroes. Right! Left! Up! Down! Out! In! Around! Up-side down! Inside out! Ten birds with one stone, as the (skewed) saying goes. Every blow with full strength. Every leap with full agility. The one with the bow never seems to run out of arrows (I’ll leave that issue to the critics)! The blonde one chucks his hammer through five bad dudes in one throw. The patriotic one deflects an enemy’s blow with his shield, does a back-flip, kicking his foe from under his shield, lands on his back, blocking an enemy that lands on top of him, pushes his enemy upwards with his shield, then kicks him forwards, proceeding to get up and ram his shield through his enemy’s throat. The iron one continues to not run out of electricity or bullets. The mean and green one continues to do the brunt of all the kills, smashing bad dudes like a hyped-up child in day care, thinking he’s at Toys-R-Us. The spider lady continues to wrestle bad dudes to the ground and somehow win, even though she’s still a woman. And in the midst of such chaos, the leader of the superheroes goes after the main bad guy as his fellow comrades fend off the plethora of littler bad guys..

But pause, take a deep breath, and let me ask you this:

Are not God’s battles even grander?

If the battles of the spiritual realm were visible to the naked eye, would not every knee crumble to the ground, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all? Of course! But we Christians are not called to fight by sight; we are called to fight by faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Why? Faith is the only lens through which we are able to see the enemy forces charging at us, the only weapon through which we are able to deal blows to the enemy, and the only armor which is able to withstand the pressures of darkness.

However, without faith, we seem to confuse Saving Private Ryan for High School Musical. We prance through the (knock-off song) halls of life, thinking everything is sparkles and glitter when we’re really hopping over dead corpses and calling them our lively friends. We laugh about the subtly of sin in our lives, thinking it’s “tolerance” and “living under grace” when in reality, Christ’s face is dripping with the spit of His own children.

Such being the case (and despite popular thought), God is not looking for positive thinking! He’s looking for faith! His army is built upon nothing but faith in who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s going to do. But not to worry, He doesn’t expect us to walk up to a mountain right away and say, “Move!” But He does expect us to walk up to a pebble and say, “Move!” And although a pebble might sound really pathetic, if we can’t look at a small pebble and say, “My God cannot lie!” what could possibly make us think that we can look at a mountain and say, “My God cannot lie!”

That is exactly why there are so many tiny pebbles in our Christian walk. If we can confidently tell a pebble to move, God will place a rock in our path. If we can confidently tell a rock to move, God will place a boulder in our path. If we can confidently tell a boulder to move, God will place a tree in our path. If we can confidently tell a tree to move, God will place a hill in our path. If we can confidently tell a hill to move, God will place a mountain in our path and listen for us to say, “Easy!”

Here is the problem: contentment. Too many are content to tip-toe around the pebbles. All hell is waging war against heaven and so many of God’s children are whining because of bruises and paper cuts! The travesty is that these children act as though there isn’t even a war at all. “It’s not so important anyways..” “God wants me to be happy, and I’m happy where I’m at!” “Well, I’m glad you have such strong convictions, but as for me..” No! Time and time again the Apostle Paul tells the Church to grow in grace and strength in Jesus Christ! Embrace the fact that there is a tiny pebble in front of you and believe that God can and will move it! Then, don’t be content with the fact that God moved the pebble! Charge into the rock, the boulder, the tree, and the hill!

Because when I see the climax battle of an epic superhero movie, I see God’s will. I see a small band of superheroes counting themselves as nothing, sacrificing life and limb for a greater cause, and I get a glimpse of God’s Holy Giborum behind the scenes. But as I watch the tiny group of nine-ish superheroes fend off an entire army, I realize that God’s army is very much the same way. Only a handful of people will ever lay everything down on the line and start charging down the narrow way. And though few may ever truly take up their cross and fight the good fight of the faith, what a privilege it is to stand among the few, only to stand side by side with Jesus Christ!

Man can make an epic movie, but a movie is still a movie. It is nothing but a fantasy filled with special effects, mere actors, and a multi-million dollar budget. God, on the other hand, is interested in nothing but reality and eternal life. He longs for faith, and the amount of faith that each of His children has, He intends to grow. And even though it may not seem like we’re these awesome superheroes hopping around and winning these mind blowing battles, who’s to say that God doesn’t have even greater exploits for His children who pursue the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

For through man’s eyes, the life of faith is ultimate stupidity,
But through God’s eyes, the life of faith is ultimate victory.

And that.. is epic!

1st Corinthians 13:3-8b – A Reminder

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never fails. – 1st Corinthians 13:3-8b