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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Superheroic Grace

I watched Ant Man the other day. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of fictional works: particularly science fiction or fantasy fiction and I have a huge love for superhero fiction. So to that end I really loved the quirky humour and action of Ant Man and how well Paul Rudd played Scott Lang as a character. But that said, this is not an advertisement or a review of Ant Man. Instead, I simply want to use something I saw in the film to explain a point in this latest blog post of mine.

When I watch a movie I love to look for the positive themes in it. Those themes that link back to the idea of the gospel. I'm not saying I get my doctrine from films because that would be ridiculous. What I am saying is that the God inspired world view I already possess leads me to go into films to dig out the positive themes that portray an idea or belief better than I had seen it before. So with that in mind I love superhero films for the ideas of how you get ordinary or extraordinary people struggling with their newfound or long-held powers or abilities and the responsibilities that come with them.

I won't spoil the film for those who still want to see it (it's good and I will probably see it again!) but there was one moment in the film I want to touch on. In this moment, the main character is being offered the chance to seize the Ant Man role and become a hero, but he rejects that idea and tries to run from it. To that end his mentor, the one offering this chance, points out the type of man he is. He reveals how the protagonist is someone who, when the going gets tough and the money runs out, turns back to crime.

I was thinking about this and it hit me that we as people are exactly like that. God offers us the chance to be heroes and walk a life of power with Him. But often when the going gets tough, when we face the annual persecutions of life we turn back to a life of crime: a life of sin. The truth is that sin is a crime against God, anything we do that is a rebellion against God. God stands there and offers us a brand new 'born again' life (2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.") but so often we turn it away to slip back into old habits and ways of thinking because it seems easier.

One of these ways of thinking is criticism. I was watching a video from Joel Osteen recently and comparing it with the hate and mistrust that some Christians proclaim against him. I know many who claim he doesn't preach the gospel or God, but then watching that video I saw exactly the opposite multiple times. What I did see is someone who is a success because he is seizing the offer of God to be a born again hero of faith. I'm not saying that we should raise the famous pastors and Christian leaders on pedestals, I'm simply saying that we shouldn't judge how one person follows God's plan according to the specific plan God has for us.

Just as there are multiple different superheroes in the Marvel universe, so too are we all called to a life of power with God - but not necessarily to do the same thing. Romans 1:16 states that "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." 1 Corinthians 4:20 says that "For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power." You can say all that you want, but the real sign of living according to God's design is in how we live our lives according to the belief in God's power for us. I'm not talking about living as if we're invincible (to use my metaphor maybe that's not our superpower) but it's about living according to the faith we have and the knowledge we have in God.

The moral of Ant Man was essentially that every person gets a second-chance. We too have been offered a second-chance by God's great love. Romans 5:8 says this "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God wants you so much. Isn't it humbling that the greatest and most powerful being in all the universe and all time wants to be with you? Wants you to be with Him? Don't we, in a sense, owe Him a response to His humility and grace? If you want to respond to Him appropriately then what He wants is for you to truly accept that his son, Jesus Christ is Lord and died and rose again for you. Believe it, confess it and accept it. You will see that you will turn your life from being someone who always slips into the easy way out of turning away from God to someone living a life with the power to follow His will and plans.

I'm not saying that life is easy or will be. Don't get me wrong. I know many Christians who go through struggle and tough times. I do too from time to time. The question is: do you want to go through struggle separated from and antagonistic to the creator of the universe or do you want to walk hand in hand with his favour and power? I know what side I'm choosing.