What! Do Christians really try to be these superheroes?
Do they begin with wearing tight, spandex costumes?
Wait, that could get ugly.
Superhero Code Explained
The Flash is very fast. He can be at two places at almost the same time. Superman is all-powerful. No burden too heavy, that he can’t lift, amen! The Batman is more intelligent than most superheroes put together. His genius is so notorious, he once devised a contingency plan to kill major superheroes – including himself, in case they all went rogue.
Let’s say the Flash represents man’s attempt at omnipresence, the ability to be at so many places and do countless things. Superman represents our hopes of omnipotence, powerful beyond the normal, and Batman, omniscience or knowing how to solve all situations.
You might say, “but these qualities belong to God!”. Very well, now we know how we Christians try to be God. Gotcha, idolatry.
At least, that is the premise of the book, Sensing Jesus, where Zack Eswine exposes Christian attempts to be like God. I was, of course, too busy(?!) to read Eswine’s book until my wife reading it caught my attention. The temptations Eswine discusses are not novel, but very real, especially for pastors and others in Christian service.
Maybe you don’t fancy those superheroes. Here’s an alternative title for you-
When all Christians try to be William Carey, Charles Spurgeon and Apostle Paul
If you’ve been a follower of Jesus, you would have (hopefully) desired to serve God in extraordinary ways. After all, the fire to be a man/ woman of God is stoked mighty when we read the book of Acts, missionary accounts of people devoted to God like Adoniram and Ann Judson, you feel like you’ve been cheating God!
When will I do something like that, Jesus?
Such are our heart cries. Which of course, makes us pick up the good news-talk with one colleague, makes us read three more books about the Christian walk, makes us increase our quiet time by one more hour, for at least one more day. Until we get exhausted by our own attempts.
Please note that I denounce none of these Godly things. My concern is the motivation behind doing them. If you’re anything human like me, you’re also good at mixing up the good with the not-so-good. And in our emotional response upon hearing what great men of God did for the mission of Jesus, we mix up two things:
The desire to do great things for God, which is good, and
Our definition of “great”, which could be stupid and vain.
Credit – Julian Fong, Flickr, CC by SA 2.0
This post is not addressing people who are either lazy for God’s work or who are busy building their own kingdoms in the name of Christianity. This is for those involved in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) who court spiritual danger and burn-out by portraying themselves as the Flash – everywhere, for everyone.
Or like a spiritual version of Batman, we want to be known for solving everybody’s problems. Or like Superman, we want to be known for being able to sleep so less, work so much harder and thus deny our humanity and refuse to submit to God-ordained limitations.
The Christian limitation of locality
For instance, Eswine explains how such desires can make us completely miss God’s mission in our locality. We would rather climb a perilous, great mountain than walk one kilometer faithfully each day. We would rather go on a missions trip far somewhere, attend 5 retreats with much fervour than be involved in our locality. We want the life of Spurgeon and Paul, but not their neighbourhoods, ailments, trials and neighbourhoods. Today, in our busy times, we zoom past church family, neighbours and colleagues God has placed in our lives, just to fulfill “ educations, callings and missions” we have assumed to be God’s will when really they need to be questioned.
Eswine explains how Jesus became part of a locality himself. In fact demons at one point call out his name – “Jesus of Nazareth” (Luke 4:34), placing him and defining him by the location God the father placed him in.
I see God the Son’s faithfulness to locality extending to us who are the local church. How can we share the Good News of Jesus with people around us and build relationships that matter eternally if we are always busy with our agenda?
Knowing our limitations is critical for Marg to be a family of missionary slaves. Or else we might be found living not by the indwelling life of Christ, but by rules and routines alone.
Rest for the weary
Is there any rest for such superheroes as I?
The good news of Jesus shows that I do not need to prove myself to church members, mentors and not even God. Jesus’ performance lifts the burden of earning God’s favour which I could never earn. What does that mean?
I have been set free to work hard after my salvation, but not to work everywhere and do everything. The Bible teaches us God’s plan and purpose- making disciples of all nations in the context of the local church. The world might portray a picture of omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience in it’s culture and will call us to be about somebody else’s business. Let us remember we are not called to be the world, neither are we called to be spiritual Batmen, Supermen or Flashes – in the pan.
In your quest to be exceptional, have you forgotten that you are exceptionally broken?
In your zeal to prove yourself unique and stand out before other Christians, have you challenged God Almighty’s eternal yet limited plans for you?
Let’s strive for greatness according to God’s standards, not our’s.
Here’s a book review of Sensing Jesus for a bonus read!