Batman, Superman, Jesus, and Jeremy

As an evangelist I get asked a lot of tough questions about God. My four year old asked me a hard one the other day. As I was tucking him into bed he looked up and blurted a question that startled me, “Is Jesus a superhero?” To be honest, it kind of took me off guard. My immediate “preacheresque” pronouncement of theological accuracy was about to be a firm “no” when I stopped to reconsider.

And thus began a rapid series of strange thoughts that went something like this,

“On the one hand Jesus is no muscle bound being, clad in stretchy material, with a big “J” on his chest. But, on the other hand, he is, well, super! And, come to think of it, he is in an epic battle with his arch nemesis, Satan, for the souls of humankind. He is the God-man who has the ultimate superpowers. Jesus is omnipresent (able to be and see everywhere at once), omniscient (he knows what has been, what will be and what could be), omnipotent (he is all powerful and can do anything) and more! Superman, Batman, The Fantastic Four and The X Men all teamed up together couldn’t defeat Jesus on their best day, not that they’d try. After all they are fiction and Jesus is non-fiction. I’ll take his marvelous to their Marvel any day of the week.”

After pondering for a few seconds I answered Jeremy, “Yes son. I guess Jesus is a superhero. But he is not made up. He is real and more powerful than anybody else in this universe.” He just said, “Good!” and that was that.

Not long after my deep “theological” conversation with my inquisitive little boy I went to see Batman Begins. I liked this one (to read a great review on this movie check out www.pluggedinonline.com) Why did I enjoy this edition of Batman? Well, it is a much more intelligent movie than any in the Bat-line of films and because it started me thinking about super heroes again!

When I was a kid my favorite superhero was Superman. In my preadolescent mind he was the ultimate. Only Kryptonite could weaken him. He was faster than a speeding locomotive and all that jazz. The man of steel was so powerful that he could literally turn back time by flying at blazing speed in the opposite direction of the earth’s rotation thereby causing the earth to stop and reverse the rotation of its axis. Never mind the fact that this would cause a disruption in the gravitational pull of the earth and that massive Tsunamis would wipe out most of the earth’s population. When you’re a kid these minor plot flaws are barely noticeable.

But while I’m on a soap box about storyline inconsistencies here’s another thing that gets my cape in a bind…Lois Lane. Was she blind? How could she not know that Clark Kent and Superman was the same guy? Oh, the power of dark rimmed glasses to shield one’s true identity! Or maybe Lex Luthor unleashed tons of Derecognition Gas into the atmosphere that attacked the part of the human brain that controls awareness of the painfully obvious. But I digress…

In spite of these little, loveable plot flaws I have always really liked Superman. This benevolent alien from Krypton looks like us and sounds like us but he is infused with amazing super powers that he uses to help mankind. Although he is from another planet for some reason he takes to humanity like “up, up” to “and away!”

But there’s a slight problem. I like Superman but I can’t really relate to him. It’s not just that he is an alien that wears tights. The real problem is that he is unattainable. He is something I could never be!

Maybe that’s why the older I get the more I like Batman, in spite of the earlier Batman movies that is. I mean Michael Keaton was pretty good as Batman and Val Kilmer was O.K. But George Clooney? Come on! Pretty boy wouldn’t make it a minute in the real world of make believe. O.K. small fry Michael Keaton wouldn’t either. But with those black plastic abs, pointy ears, full length cape and a utility belt full of bat gear, anybody can look pretty imposing (except for pretty boy!)

The Batman movies have gone from bad to worse and, just when I was going to give up hope, along came Christian Bale to save the day! In Batman Begins Bale shows us how a mere mortal becomes a superhero without any super powers.

Bruce Wayne turned into a troubled and tormented child after he watched his mom and dad get gunned down by a cold blooded criminal. Young master Bruce vowed to do something about it. Over the years his blazing hatred for criminals turned to an intense hunger for vengeance and then finally into an insatiable thirst for justice. This combined with the billions of dollars at his disposal through Wayne Enterprises allowed him the luxury of prototyping and perfecting the Bat mobile, the Bat suit, Bat night vision glasses, Bat-shaped throwing knives, endless amounts of bat cable to hoist his bat self up the side of buildings.

What Batman lacks in superpowers he makes up for with well financed creativity and a whole lot of hard work! While Spiderman is casting his webs and slinging around town, and while Superman is flying at will, Batman has to work at it because he is human just like us! He gets beaten up and bruised. He has tasted pain.

Another reason I prefer Batman to Superman is that, not only is Batman fighting evil in the world, but he is at war with the brooding darkness in his own soul. Inevitably, he overcomes his urges for vengeance and unrestrained retaliation to be on the side of justice. “What’s always been fascinating about Batman,” says Director Christopher Nolan, “is that he is a hero driven by quite negative impulses. Batman is human. He’s flawed. But he’s someone who has taken those very powerful, self-destructive emotions and made something positive from them. To me, that makes Batman an extraordinarily relevant figure in today’s world.”

Isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing? We are battling the forces of darkness on the inside and the outside. On the outside we are battling Satan and the world system that he has set up. Our weapons are prayer and the Word of God. Our “bat suit” has a helmet of salvation, plasto-abs of righteousness, a bat shield of faith, a utility belt of truth and bat boots. We are at war with Satan to rescue those who don’t know Christ from imminent death in eternal flame. But that’s not all.

We are also at war within ourselves. While we fight Satan on the outside we are also battling sin on the inside. Thoughts of lust, tendencies to gossip, deep seated resentment and a host of other vicious villains rip and tear at the fabric of our soul. But we, like Batman, must overcome them, even though they leave bruises from time to time.

The cool thing is that Jesus, our real superhero, loans us his strength to win against our dark enemies of sin and Satan. If we depend on Jesus his power surges through our souls so that we are literally indestructible! How bizzaro is that? Imagine Superman loaning Batman his superhuman strength? Watch out villains of Gotham! But that’s exactly what happens when we trust in Jesus! When we trust Him we become a kind of Super Batman. Maybe that’s why Ephesians 6:10 reminds us, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”

And to think all these weird thoughts came as a result of a simple question from a four year old boy. Daddy loves you Jeremy. Thanks for making me think outside the cape.

And as for all you mere mortals, we’ll see you next week. Same bat time. Same bat channel. In the meantime, if you’re feeling as powerless as Superman near Kryptonite or Batman without his wonderful toys, it may be because you have never tapped in to the power of the Holy Spirit living inside you. Click here to learn about the super power available from our superhero Jesus!

Founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, International (D2S) Greg Stier has made an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Christian teenagers across the country through Dare 2 Share conferences, where he equips youth workers and leaders to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com Send feedback to greg@dare2share.org.