Some of you may be old enough to remember the TV show “Superman” of the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a little before my time, but I have seen a few reruns. I also remember hearing as a child about how my older sister, after having watched the show, climbed up on top of the garage and tried to fly like Superman. It didn’t work out so well for her. She broke her arm.
Anyway, the show would open every week with Superman flying faster than a speeding bullet and higher than the tallest building. Then he would stand still as someone shot at him because the bullets were supposedly bouncing right off. Then, as the criminal’s gun ran out of bullets, the strangest thing always happened. The desperate bad guy would then throw his gun at Superman–and Superman would duck!
Why would the Man of Steel who is able to deflect bullets have to duck when a gun was thrown at him? I guess the powers of a super-hero only go so far.
No doubt, those powers are still pretty good at the movie box office. There have been dozens of successful movies the past few years that brought to the big screen the comic book superheroes and brought to their makers plenty of big bucks. From Captain America and the X-Men, to the Green Lantern and Green Hornet, to Spiderman and Batman and, of course, Superman, we do love those heroes. Maybe it’s because they are larger than life and can come to our rescue.
I bring all this up in light of a good discussion we had in our small group on Wednesday night. We were discussing prayer–its power and possibilities, our struggles and inconsistencies–from James 5. The apostle includes an almost incidental illustration right in the middle of his call to pray. He says, “Elijah was a man just like us.” And then he tells of Elijah’s prayer and his faith in calling for drought, and then rain, as a prophet of God. God used Elijah in incredible ways–including one of my favorite Biblical stories when he faced down the prophets of Baal–and yet he was no superhero. He was “just like us.”
I think we often look at the leading characters of the Bible as superhero-like and larger than life, even so much that we don’t think we’re capable of the things they did. But an important lesson of Scripture, from beginning to end, is that God uses ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things, when we put our faith in Him.
In some ways, there are similarities in those ordinary Biblical characters and our superheroes–and us. In reality, we are all the very ordinary Elijahs and Peter Parkers and Clark Kents who in and of ourselves won’t make much of an impact on our world. However, when we allow God to work in us and through us, and His Spirit to supernaturally empower us, we see extraordinary things happen. You might not run faster than a locomotive, but you can do things you never imagined, with His help.
My prayer for all of us is not that we would be Superhero Christians in 2012, but that we would be faithful to Him, allowing Him to be honored through our obedience. If we do that, I assure you we’ll all have a “super” year.
His grace is sufficient! I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday.