You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the big Hollywood blockbusters recently are superhero films. Everyone from Batman and Superman, to Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and Wolverine, all have big-screen adventures that dazzle audiences across the world. As I’ve watched these films, I’ve noticed a theme that resonates through every story: each hero faces a choice, at some point in their journey, about how to use their superpowers. They can either walk away from the world and live a peaceful life in anonymity, or they can fight the evil that exists in the world, even if the world itself misunderstands and fears them for the very powers they use to protect it.
A great example of this is Superman. Despite being feared by the world’s governments, he is encouraged by his father to serve and protect even those who don’t understand him. In a memorable speech, he tells Superman…
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive toward. They will race behind you, they will stumble. But in time… they will join you… In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”
While that’s a great bit of screenwriting, it’s hardly original. Jesus spoke the original version 2,000 years before that movie came out! Here it is: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” (John 15:18-20).
Jesus was reminding his disciples of two important truths here: first, that they were essentially aliens to the world around them. Second, that they would be resisted, misunderstood, and even feared.
Why? Like Superman, the disciples had been given a set of superpowers. In their case, though, these powers were spiritual. Their hearts had already been changed by Christ, and their lives were about to be transformed even further by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, through whom they would go on to perform miracles and wonders that even Superman could never dream of. They would boldly proclaim a gospel that was an offense and stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles alike, since it confronted them with their pride and convicted them of their need for the costly grace of our Triune God.
Like all heroes, the disciples also faced a choice—to put their total trust in God and live under his grace and lordship and for his honor and glory, or to continue to live for themselves. But they weren’t alone. They could look to the example that Christ gave them. In Christ, they saw a life of total dedication to his heavenly Father’s glory and in complete trust in his faithfulness. So great was his love for the Father, he sought to bring others into a worshipping relationship of love and trust in him. His love and trust was so great he willingly and even joyfully obeyed the gracious will and purpose of his Father to the point of his death on the cross with hope in his resurrection.
We know that many of the disciples made their choice to follow Christ’s path. We, too, are offered that choice. Thankfully, through our Lord and Savior, we have the ability to live for the glory of God and not for ourselves. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be joyful witnesses in the world and find peace knowing that in Christ, our salvation is made perfect in him.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.