Superman comic, suffering, salvationPublished 9:13am Monday, May 16, 2011
Did you see recently were Superman renounced his American citizenship? In Action Comics issue 900 Superman is quoted as saying, “I am tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy. Truth, justice and the American way aren’t enough anymore. The world is too small, too connected.” The publishers in and effort to do some damage control made this statement: “As a character and an icon, he embodies the best of the American Way. Superman will put a global focus on his never ending battle.”
My initial reaction was that Superman isn’t a citizen anyway; he is a fictional character. As a fictional character from Krypton, he blended in well with the surroundings, but he lived a different kind of life.
He embodies some good qualities that are like or should be like most Christians. We, who are following Jesus, are strangers, aliens, living as foreigners, in exile, or sojourners (temporary stay). Sometimes I find that hard to wrap my mind around. I am only here on earth on a temporary visa. My permanent home isn’t here but in a future kingdom. Within us there is a desire or a longing for something more, a sense that we are not fully satisfied in this life. That is because we are not home yet. This feeling is especially pronounced when the reality and experience of suffering and trials that tests our faith. We pray Lord your kingdom come, end all of this and usher in your kingdom.
Not everyone has that outlook, but we all can and those who belong to Christ should. Why? We have this expectation of a future hope grounded in God’s power. 1 Peter 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” The Christian faith is based on God’s power. Over and over in this chapter Peter refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While his blood paid the price for our sin on the cross through his death, the deal wasn’t done until Jesus defeated death when he rose from the dead. Because Jesus rose from the dead, so do we when we place our faith in him. Before we knew Christ we were “dead in our trespasses and sins.” (Eph 2) Through our faith in Jesus God’s power continues to protect us and guarantees our inheritance the hope of heaven and a future kingdom on earth one day. All of this is by God’s power that is always protecting us. That let’s me know that my performance isn’t required to guarantee anything. This promise changes my perspective on how I live now.
We can be joyful in Christ. “6 So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” Our current experience can pull the joy from us. Trials and suffering can get us down, but I can possess a walking around deep inside joy. Kind of like I am walking around with this awesome secret that nothing can harm me here. Just as Jesus provided all I needed to know him, He continues to provide all I need for the future. This current world will not be the final word and one day we will live in his presence. Just thinking about all that God’s power has already done should make us want to rejoice.
We should obey Christ. 13 So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” The word holy means “set apart”. Our lives should be set apart or different than the world we live. This will happen as we grow in faith and become more obedient to God. We don’t obey to earn God’s favor, but we obey because we already have it! I know that being obedient can be difficult, we naturally don’t want to, but think of it this way. God knows the best way to live, and when he says to live it a certain way he is not trying to take something away from you. He wants you to have even more joy that comes through living life his way. That as we obey we will experience the way life is supposed to live, and to quote a famous commercial, “Life doesn’t get any better than this!”
We must love each other. “22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.[d] Love each other deeply with all your heart.[ 23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 25. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” Peter says we “must show love.” This is not an option. Remember the command will lead us into greater joy! We love and serve our fellow Christians. If you really want to be weird in our world today, love your enemies. When we do love we live out the gospel, the Good News that we believed. The gospel is what Jesus has done for us. He lived a life we could not live to die a death we should have died, but rose again to give to all a new life. He did it because he loves us. He loved us and died for us even though we didn’t love him and when we love like that and not just loving ourselves, the world will notice. We will show others, believers and non-believers alike that we may be citizens of America, but we are from another kingdom serving the greatest King that ever walked this planet, and will again.
Mike McMorris is the pastor for Robinsonville Baptist Church.