Words by Al Blanton | Image by Ryan McGill
My five-year-old son is obsessed with Batman.
Honestly, I don’t know where this fascination comes from, but it is threatening to take over the house. Y’all, Batman stuff is everywhere.
Let me paint this for you. He sleeps underneath a Batman blanket, a two-foot Batman toy (that shoots missiles) standing guard in the corner of the room, and a stuffed animal wearing a Batman mask tucked beside him. After his nightly bath, he dries off underneath a hooded Batman towel and slips into Batman pajamas. We have Batman motorcycles, cars, figurines, capes, plates, T-shirts, masks, and full-blown outfits. And can you guess the theme of his birthday party when he turned five? Hint: it wasn’t Superman!
Forasmuch as he adores the “Caped Crusader,” he said something to me the other day that floored me. He said, “Daddy, Batman is my favorite superhero, but my favorite favorite superhero is Jesus and God.”
Wow. It was a proud parent moment, indeed.
I think one of the reasons my son likes Batman is the humanness of him. After all, he’s a superhero with no powers, just a regular guy (who happens to have lots of money) committed to eliminating “bad guys” with his cleverness and ingenuity.
I think Batman is pretty cool, too.
Powers. Let’s explore this notion for just a moment. We see a lot about this in today’s world. American entertainment is saturated with characters who display tremendous powers—men and women alike doing supernatural things: flying through the air, eyes aglow, running at great speeds, moving immovable objects, freezing things, blowing up things, and crushing the enemy with a mere flick of the wrist. Often, they display telepathic, pyrokinetic, psychokinetic, and other powers that end with the suffix “-ic.” It’s unlimited, really.
I have wondered why this is so. Why, as a nation, have we become so enthralled with fantasy? It seems like such a rarity these days that Hollywood produces a movie with real-world themes – real-world people dealing with real-world issues. Instead, everything is set in space, an alternate world, or some futuristic place. Characters don’t wear regular clothes like you and me but don costumes with their logos plastered across the chest.
A buddy of mine who’s into all that says that we are consumed with fantasy and powers because we feel powerless, and society tends to think real heroes don’t exist anymore. I believe him.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with reading or watching fiction, perusing a comic book, or going to a picture show. I’m all about some Batman—and Andy Griffith. It’s the pervasiveness of it all. It’s our obsession with powers and phantasm. It’s the danger that, if we’re not careful, our whole lives will be engulfed with a desire to be somewhere other than where we are at that moment (if you don’t believe this, snap a picture the next time you’re in a waiting room or airport and note how many people are on their cell phones).
Perhaps a deep unhappiness within the human soul needs to be explored, a potent belief in the general inherent suckiness of our own existence that causes us to seek out these extraordinary worlds.
For some, retreating into fantasy is a means to cope with life—a promise that a better world exists somewhere. Our entertainment—once subtly and now unreservedly—shouts at us, “Get out! Get out!”
Why has this become the norm? Are our lives so bad and hollow that we have begun to perpetually seek avenues of escape?
To be sure, the “powers” depicted in theaters are not derived from a holy source. Nowhere in these secular tales does the God of the Bible get the glory. Superheroes have powers because they were just born that way, or they were born in a foreign land where powers are as prevalent as popsicles, or somewhere down the line, an experiment went wrong.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves this: after we’ve vegged out on fantasy, do we feel better or worse about ourselves? Because after the credits run, the superheroes still have all the power, and we don’t have any. We’re still just regular schmoes.
While we’ve put lots of stock in superpowers, many Christians operate as though God’s biggest, boldest work is behind Him. I mean, we don’t really believe miracles occur in today’s world as they did in the Old and New Testaments, do we?
But even if we believed that, we tend to bind God up with our own limitations. We forget the words in the Gospel of Luke that state, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (1:37 NJKV).
As a result, our prayers are not packaged in big, bold requests.
Throughout the New Testament, however, stories abound of individuals stricken with all sorts of maladies and infirmities, falling at the feet of Jesus and asking Him to heal them.
- A leper asking Him to make him clean (Matthew 8:1-4)
- A centurion asking Him to heal his paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5-13).
- Men lowering a paralytic through the roof of a house so Jesus could heal him (Mark 2:1-5).
- Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, who fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged him to heal his dying 12-year-old daughter (Luke 8:40-56)
- A woman having a flow of blood seeking only to touch His garment (Luke 8:43-48)
- A blind man who begged Jesus to touch him and restore his sight (Mark 8:22-26)
And in every instance, the answer was “yes”!
When did we last come to the Lord Jesus with a big, bold request like this?
- Lord, restore my sight.
- Lord, heal my leg.
- Lord, cure me of this disease.
- Lord, eliminate this sickness from my body.
- Lord, heal my son or daughter.
- Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus, I command this sickness to leave my body!
Have we grown so jaded that we believe God isn’t willing or capable to honor these requests? (Then, on the flip side, we don’t want to bother Him with our little penny-ante requests. So, we end up in this sort of “middle ground” in our prayer life.)
Look. God hasn’t retired from the miracle business. He’s still in the healing business. He’s still omnipotent. He still possesses the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead, parted the Red Sea, calmed the storms, fed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish, and created the world out of nothing.
He still has the power to break addictions and crush strongholds. He’s still mighty to save.
God is still doing miraculous things all over the world, and there’s still power in the blood of Jesus.
He is still sovereign over your bad report, your diagnoses, your impossible situation, and your no way out.
If he can save Jonah from a whale, trust me, he can find you an apartment or a new job.
If he can rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace, he can heal your little stubbed toe.
Believer, we do not have to live lives devoid of power. We are not powerless; instead, we have power and authority in the mighty name of Jesus!
By His authority, demons have to flee, and Satan has to leave.
Not only that, but we find power in every single one of His promises, not because of our own merit but because He is faithful. And we get to share in that? Glory to God!
My editors are telling me to wrap this up, so I will say this:
Trust Him. Ask Him. Beg Him. Bug Him. Believe in Him—Bombard Heaven with your requests, both big and small.
He’s got the power!
And with no offense to the aforementioned superheroes, the real marvel is the resurrected Christ, conqueror of death and savior of mankind, who, at this very moment, is seated at the right hand of God and pleading on your behalf. WL