“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it”
I Thessalonians 5:11 (The Message).
I seem to always be one step behind. I realize that fact and accept it, and thankfully, my family loves me despite that irritating quirk. Last weekend we were picking out a fun family movie and even though the rest of my clan had seen it multiple times, they were willing to indulge me and we watched Avengers. I know it’s been released since May 2012, but I finally had the chance to see it with my family. I loved it!
I didn’t notice it at the time, but the next day when my kids and I were talking and laughing about certain parts, I realized a Biblical truth expressed through a group of superheroes. Let me set the scene: Loki (Thor’s brother and the villain) was captured and being transported by Black Widow, Captain America, and Iron Man in an airplane to a secure location. Thor came onto the plane they were flying and stole Loki. Iron Man followed and ended up in a battle with Thor to get Loki back. Captain America was slower to arrive, but decided he needed to help Iron Man fight Thor for the return of their prisoner.
When Captain America arrived, after Iron Man and Thor had duked it out already, he commanded Thor: “Put the hammer down.”
Iron Man, lying a distance away recovering from his own struggle with Thor replied, “Ah, yeah, no. He loves his hammer.” (Insert Robert Downey Jr.’s sarcasm here for full effect.)
Thor bellows: “You want me to put down my hammer?” and then an earthshattering noise fills the forest where they are fighting as he “puts his hammer down.”
While talking with my kids, I realized this movie has three great parallels to the life of a Christ follower:
1) Just like superheroes, when we choose to follow Christ, life won’t be smooth sailing.
God warned us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV). So, when we end up facing a brick wall in our lives, we shouldn’t be surprised. God warned us ahead of time that life wouldn’t necessarily be easy. It’s not easy for believers and nonbelievers alike. Just because we choose to follow Christ, it doesn’t mean He takes away all our pain and we live a life that only sees victory and success.
2) We may be called upon to use our “secret weapons” in order to see victory in our lives.
Just as super heroes’ powers come in many different forms depending upon which hero we’re talking about, God equips each of us a little differently. God explains in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 different gifts that various believers possess. Some of those gifts include the gift of giving, mercy, service, teaching, discernment, faith, healing, helps, and wisdom to name but a few. For the full list, I encourage you to read each of the above passages yourself and see which gifts God has given to you personally.
However, just like with superheroes, God has given to all believers certain other tools to help us fight the battles we are called to do battle against. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists out the full armor of God which God gives to everyone so we can “take our stand against the devil’s schemes.” We also are all given the fruits of the Spirit which are found in Galatians 5:22-23 and in I Peter 1:5-7, God instructs us to make every effort to “add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (NIV).
3) Iron Man wouldn’t have been able to make the above statement had he not just finished fighting Thor himself and gained personal experience from his own similar battle.
Romans 8:28 was always a verse I liked, but had never considered how it personally applied to my own life until recently. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). Now I’m not one to say God gives us the challenges in our life or deliberately takes delight in allowing suffering to occur. However, I do believe that when we keep our focus on God during the struggles and remember to focus our attention on praising Him for the blessings He provides during our struggles and learning what it is He would like us to learn, then the struggles may last for a shorter duration. And, I’ve come to see in my own life, another blessing that can occur from the trials we’re called to face is to be an encouragement for others who are walking a similar path as ours. While I wouldn’t knowingly ask God to allow a trial to occur in my life, when I do have to face them (and we all do), then I pray I can be a blessing to someone else who is experiencing similar pain in their own lives.
So, my prayer for all of us today is this. First of all, it’s pretty neat to know that the God of the universe loves us all enough to give us “weapons” to fight the battles we must face here on Earth. Second, it gives me peace to know I don’t have to fight those battles alone – God is fighting right alongside with me. And third, since it’s inevitable that I have to fight certain battles, I’m glad to know I can use my experience and battle scars to help lead someone else to victory in their own life, preferably faster than it took me to make the journey.
I can see why movies about superheroes are entertaining. Add some comedy and the right amount of sarcasm and I head off to bed with a smile as well as a thankful spirit my God is the biggest superhero of them all.
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell