I’m a big fan of comic books. I grew up reading them, and to me, DC Comics was always my favorite. For the unintiated, DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – basically all the characters we think of when you think of iconic superheroes. I occasionally picked up a few Marvel books, playing around for short times with X-Men and Spiderman, among a few others, but the characters and the stories never resonated with me much, so I stuck with DC by and large.
It wasn’t until adulthood, when a post by Jeremy Pierce got me thinking about it, that I realized what the fundamental difference in the two universes is, and perhaps what that says about people in terms of how they view themselves in the Kingdom of God. (It’s a stretch, I know . . . humor me) There are tons of other differences, and tons of exceptions, but the basic fundamental difference is this: in DC Comics Superman is Superman, Clark Kent is a facade. Superman is the core of who he really is. In Marvel comics, the masks and tights is the facade. Spiderman is really Peter Parker, at his core. He’s just a kid trying to make it, and help some people out along the way. A good kid, but Spiderman is a mask for him to do good works. Ponder on that a minute, and let’s continue.
I’m relating this to Christianity for reasons that I find rather evident. Are we Christians: soldiers in the Army of God, citizens of his Kingdom, preachers, teachers, ministers, and servants first? Have we embraced identification with Jesus to the point where our “personal” lives are merely just facades for us to use living in the world. . . having jobs, etc. Not to say that we’re “fake,” by using the word facade. But I mean it in the sense of – who are we at our core. What motivates us in the deepest parts of our hearts? So, are we Christians at our core, or are we everyday average Peter Parker at our core? Have we stumbled across a powerful relevation that allows us to help and minister to people, put at our core we’ll still just regular joes, trying to make it . . . and help a few people out along the way.
I’m not certain that either way of thinking is “right” or “wrong.” I’m not sure that either is more “spiritual” than the other (I’m using quotes a lot, huh?) But I do think it says something about who we are and the way we approach God. I view my identification with Jesus as the essence of who I am. It’s my priority in life, and the rest is just details. Sure, I get bogged down in the details from time to time, but in my heart, my raison d’etre is to serve God, and to advance His Kingdom. I’m an operative of God’s army. I’m a member of His Justice League, so to speak, and my civilian identity is a secondary concern that must mold itself around that all-encompassing purpose.
But a perfectly valid worldview is to see yourself as . . . an X-Man. The world hates you, you’ve got a pretty screwed-up past, but you want to do something to help, and you’ve found a place that let’s you use what God has given you to do that. You are who you are, and you want to help people as you.
Is there a right and wrong way of viewing it? I tend to view the DC approach as the better one, but perhaps only by virtue of my outlook on the situation. Bruce Wayne became Batman. He totally gave himself and his life to become him. This same level of devotion is required of us, to serve God. Most of the characters in Marvel are selfish snots, who want the fame or notoriety, as much as they want to help people. They want their little lives, and want the superhero persona to revolve around them. Batman is devoted to Gotham. He would never leave it, so Bruce Wayne would turn down any personal or business opportunity that made him leave, I would assume. Peter Parker gets a job in LA, though . . . Spiderman gets friendly in a new neighborhood.
As with many things, I think the truth may lie somewhere in between. . . embracing both trains of thought. Can we be so totally sold out and devoted to God that our day-to-day lives are just relatively meaningless details, and we live and breathe to spread the Gospel, and the love of Jesus with people, AND still remember that we’re just regular people, blessed by God with a timeless and valuable truth. People sold out to their cause, who are still so intimately acquainted with their humanity that when a child starves in Africa, you hurt for them in a way that makes you want to roll back the oceans in between you and them in order to get them food. When a friend tells you about troubles in their life, your soul is stirred as you share the experience with them.
I guess that’s why I get a little turned off by traditional “ministers.” We’ve created an office that we expect to be totally detached from reality. Superhumans that never experience heartache. People who never have family problems, money problems, or make mistakes. Supermen who rarely transform back into Clark Kent. It’s wrong.
So . . . which is right? Amalgam Comics. And if you catch that reference, not only do you get the point of this post, but you are an Uber-geek. Congratulations.