I am a bit of a superhero nerd. Whether it’s Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Justice League, or The Avengers, I am hooked. I couldn’t even tell you which one is my favorite because each one is fascinating to me. What attracts me to this genre of art and pop-culture is not so much the display of their strength, their quests to conquer evil, their teamwork, or even the outstanding special effects we see in their movies. What attracts me to superheroes is the spiritual significance that I see in each of their stories.
Many of the superheroes we are familiar with came from difficult circumstances. Many are orphans. Some have experienced horrific injuries or have painful memories of their past. Their story of origin almost always has a tragic element to it. But regardless of their circumstances they have discovered a special power, strength or ability and they have decided to use this gift to help, serve and save others. Often the tragedy that they experience is what propels them into life as a superhero. What could have destroyed them has instead strengthened them in their quest to help others.
Another unique trait about superheroes is that many of them live a dual life. In their day-to-day lives they may be known as Clark Kent, Diana Prince, Peter Parker, or Bruce Wayne. But when they are called into action they become Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, and Batman. Their “secret identities” are the persona they exhibit when they are not fighting crime, catching villains, or leaping over buildings in a single bound. It’s who they pretend to be when they’re not being the superheroes they really are.
I believe that we as believers in Christ are all spiritual superheroes. We have been given the Holy Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity to exist inside of us. That same Spirit has given us at least one spiritual gift that has been especially selected just for us to possess. God’s desire is to use that gift, empowered by His Holy Spirit to impact the world in which He has placed us.
Sadly, I believe too many of us are living only within our “secret identities.” We are leading mild-mannered lives going about our daily business sometimes never realizing the special gift within us and the purpose and mission God wants to complete through us. We spend our days at “The Daily Planet,” getting caught up in the news stories of the world, when in the meantime there are people in need all around us. We pass by every phone booth (when those existed) and instead of allowing God to transform us and use the power He has placed within us, we continue our daily grind and one day looks very much like every other. We are not sharing with the world who we really are. We have either never recognized who God created us to be or we’ve lived so long in our secret identity that we’ve forgotten our true identity as believers in Christ!
Or perhaps, instead of overcoming the tragedies of our past we are haunted by them. Our story of origin plagues us, making us believe that God could never use us or want to use us in His plan to touch the world. The pain we have experienced or are still experiencing now distracts us to the point that we feel purposeless and useless. We believe we have nothing to give. We forget that we are special, uniquely created with a purpose and mission to fulfill.
If either of these scenarios describes you I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth! We each have a gift, a calling, a purpose, and the power by which we are to use that gift to love and serve others on God’s behalf. We are all spiritual SUPERHEROES as believers in Jesus! We simply have to recognize our true identities and yield to them. God will do the rest.
I was recently reading the book of Numbers in the Bible. Although it is not the most compelling book of God’s Word there are some beautiful nuggets within it. I stumbled across one that I believe speaks to this very notion of spiritual superhero-dom. I was reading the story where the Israelites are complaining and rebelling against Moses and Aaron because they have no water to drink. God says to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff an assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock. …Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.” (Numbers 20:8, 11)
Now you may be asking what does water coming out of a rock have to do with Christians being spiritual superheroes. Well, it comes down to just one little word in that passage. It’s the word “its.” In verse 8 God says to Moses, the rock will pour out “its” water. I double checked the original Hebrew and indeed the original text also reads “its” water. The rock already possessed the water the Israelites needed. God placed that water inside that rock so that it would be delivered to His nation Israel at precisely that time and place when they needed it most. He knew their needs long before they did and He made provision for them. He made provision by placing water within a rock, that rock!
The same is true for each of us. God has placed inside each of us a gift, a gift that He wants to use to bless and fulfill others. The gift isn’t for us. It’s for others. It is within us and God wants to unleash it in His timing and for His great purpose. He wants that gift to just pour out of us, refreshing and renewing others through its expression. He wants to include us in His mission of loving, serving and saving the world.
The downside of this story is that Moses chose to strike the rock twice with his staff (v. 11). God told Moses to simply speak to the rock and the water would pour out its water. The result of Moses’ action was the same, the water came gushing out. But Moses had disobeyed God’s command and he did so in front of the entire community. The price of Moses’ disobedience was costly. When their journey in the wilderness finally ended and they were about to claim the land God had promised them for generations, Moses was not allowed to enter. Moses took the miracle that God wanted to perform and added his own “power” to it. In doing so, he made it about him.
This is a great reminder for all of us. We may want some spectacular unleashing of the gift God has given us. But we don’t get to choose the gift or how God uses it. We simply need to recognize and yield to His power. The moment we try to take that gift into our own hands and wield it in the world as if it is our own, we forget the Source of that gift and we make it about us. That’s what differentiates us as Christians who are spiritual superheroes and the superheroes of our pop-culture. Our gifts and how they impact the world are about God, not about us. It’s never about us. It’s about the One within us. It is about bringing glory to our God and Creator.
My prayer for you dear reader is three-fold. First, I pray that you recognize that you are a valuable, priceless, indispensable spiritual superhero. God made you and created you with gifts, talents, and abilities that are unique only to you. He has placed within you His Holy Spirit not only to guide you, comfort you, and teach you, but to UNLEASH the spiritual gift He has given you to share with the world. Second, I pray that you know that God wants to use your story of origin to propel you forward in your mission to serve Him. He does not want you bound by it. He knows your story and will use every part of your life experience to touch the lives of others. Third, I pray that you will yield to Him. He has a mission for you, a purpose that only you can fulfill for Him. He wants to pour out what He placed within you so that His love can be shared and that love will ultimately save those who are lost and in need of Him. You are a superhero! Give up your secret identity and live as the spiritual superhero God has created you to be.
Lord, thank you for the gift of Your Holy Spirit living inside each one of your children. Thank you for His power and for Your mission to love the whole world. Thank you for wanting use us to carry out your mission. May Your church around the world hear and heed Your calling to love and serve that You may be glorified! We love you and we thank you for your Son, Jesus. In His name, amen.