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Superman Will Never Be Enough

There he stood with a smile on his face and a VHS tape from Blockbuster Video in his hand.  I was eight.  Mom had set out Little Caesar’s Pizza, Pepsi, and apple juice.  Matt and I were jumping up and down while Charity waited patiently on the couch with her Chatty Patty.  “The Quest for Peace,” my dad declared triumphantly, “Superman Part-4.  And I’ve heard this is the best one yet.”  My father’s sources were incorrect.  This would prove to be one of the worst superhero movies ever made.[1]  Yet the ridiculous plot and poor acting doesn’t damper the power of this memory.

I’ve always been a fan of superheroes.  From the weekly Spiderman comic strip in the Review Journal (which I followed for years) to the Death of Superman series in ‘92 (which I still regard as a prized collectible).  I’m one of the many Americans who love to read about & watch extraordinary leagues of avengers who bring justice to the downtrodden and guard our galaxy from evil.

But I’ve been recently plagued by nagging question.  What is it really that makes these stories so popular?  For what is our society truly longing?  What void are we attempting to fill?  Though entertaining, why is it that we walk out of the theater as unsatisfied spiritual by the film as we are unsatisfied physically by the popcorn?

Humanity Longs for a Savior

In a recent USA Today article Ben Affleck (our current Batman) explains why superhero movies perform so well in our society.[2]  “There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary.  Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?” [3]

Romans 8:22-23 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

This is not a new concept.  The Apostle Paul identified this Savior-Longing-Syndrome thousands of years ago while living and ministering in a society that also needed stories of super humans (Hercules & Achilles) and gods from above (Apollo & Aphrodite).  Coincidentally, these heroes from above would battle evil villains who were bent on the destruction of earth and its inhabitants.  In every society, in every time period, it seems as if the human heart is desperately searching for a benevolent Savior who can “save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions, and save us from the people who are evil.”

Mere Mortals continue to Fail

To compound our frustration we see even our heroes turn out to be villains.  Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and even Bill Cosby have all turned out to be people of questionable character.  Thus far I have only mentioned politicians, media moguls, and entertainers.  I haven’t even bothered to mention the countless religious leaders who have proven to be desperately flawed and full of sin.

I Peter 2:21-23 Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a man come to prominence who was actually worth following? A sinless man?  We don’t need another anti-hero who is deeply flawed, one in whom we can see the reflection of ourselves.  We want and need an actual hero!  One who doesn’t need saving himself but one who can actually be trusted to do the saving, ALL BY HIMSELF.

II Corinthians 5:21 For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus took the sins of mankind upon his own shoulders while placing his righteousness upon ours.  He is not only a sinless man but a selfless savior.  Could it be that Jesus is the hero for whom we’ve been longing?

Preparing for the End of Time

I find it interesting that a society that so roundly rejects Jesus as Messiah and Savior is frantically looking for a Messiah and Savior!  Anybody but Him!!!  Could it be that the world will soon receive a “superman” that will unite this world, address our currency issues, and establish a global peace?  Could it be that our collective consciousness has been perfectly prepared for a man on a white horse, with bow in hand and crown on head[4], with an unmatched oratory[5] ability, who supernaturally survives a public assassination?[6]  The Bible speaks of an Antichrist that will be nearly universally accepted by mankind as the savior for whom we’ve all been waiting.  His arrival will be celebrated and his departure will coincide with Armageddon.[7]

 

Jesus is the Savior we all want so desperately!  He came once to save us from our sin through his sacrificial death and substitutionary atonement.  He is coming again to save us from ourselves and the self-destructive behavior we as humans have demonstrated for thousands of years.  Have you received Him – or are you still waiting for another?  Or worse yet – are you still hoping to be your own savior?

 

What are your thoughts?  I want to dialogue with you – especially if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ.  Where am I going wrong?  Where do you agree?  What have I missed?  If you disagree with my comment on Green Lantern and believe Green Lantern to be a good movie – please don’t bother commenting.  🙂  

Please comment in the thread below and I will attempt to answer each.

 

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[1] I’m looking at you Green Lantern

[2] Thank you to my church-planting friend Chris Promersberger for making this excellent point in a recent post. https://www.facebook.com/crispyberger?fref=ts

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2017/11/13/how-justice-league-weathered-supersized-setbacks-assemble-dcs-greatest-heroes/856019001/

[4] Revelation 6:2

[5] Daniel 7:8

[6] Revelation 13:3-4

[7] Sorry about that tirade!  I’m in the midst of preparing a sermon series that will debut on January 21 called – 6 Events that will Change the World.  Part 3 of this series on The End Times will be called – The Rise of the Antichrist.

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Ashley
    November 20, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    I’m a Christian, my husband is a brilliant atheist. We saw Justice League last weekend. The scene where Superman is resurrected was powerful. I’ve always been a Superman fan, and my husband offered, “It’s because he’s the Jesus figure. He was the only son of a god, sent to earth to live among humanity with the purpose of hearing their cries and eliminating their suffering.” Of course theology and the real Jesus has more to offer than any fictional superhero, but my point is that humanity knows what we desperately need, and that’s obvious by the stories and heroes we worship.

  • Reply
    Alan
    November 21, 2017 at 4:07 am

    To the point you made about society frantically looking for a savior and messiah but adamantly denying Jesus. One of my favorite discussions to have is the discussion of how science and religion intersect in so many ways. I have noticed that if I make conversation and valid argument points without mentioning God but instead call God “the universe” they are accepted with a welcome reception but even though they have agreed fully and welcomed my points of view as valid as soon as I tell them that I have been withholding that my source is the bible and if you replace the term “the universe” with God you will see the bible is not as far fetched as some atheists would have you believe. A lot respond much more open minded and want to hear more but some immediately clam up and get on the defensive as though they are open to answers from any source except that source.

  • Reply
    Caroline
    November 23, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Josh, I am a Christian…as a matter of fact, I’m a member of your dad’s church. BUT…I see the problem as Christianity has gotten mixed up with some bad company…and well, it isn’t very palatable when you look in that way. The disgusting things that are being defended with the bible…really?
    Yes, we need a superhero, we need Christ. Problem is, we’ve wrapped him in political paper and that paper is disgusting. Time to stop combining politics and Christ.

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