I’m getting ready to slide into the saddle at CC Forest Grove. It’s a community of about 20,000 people out on the fringe of the growth belt around Portland, OR. My family and I drove through the town looking at housing. We noticed that there is basically every denomination represented there in some great old buildings, and some run down 1970s buildings. Apparently its a very religious town.
It’s also a college town. Well, kinda. It’s a small-private-college town known for its optometry school (better get large print give-away Bibles). I’m about to turn 34 years old which means I was on the fringe of the whole Gen-X thing. I have no idea what gen-x was because I was too goody-goody so that doesn’t mean much to me. I didn’t participate in my own generation’s stuff. Now I’m looking at a post-modern, no absolute truth, everything is ok so long as no one gets hurt generation. So why am I getting excited?
I don’t think I could have been successful in ministry when I thought I was ready fresh out of Bible school. I think it’s take the Lord (or me) these 14 years to get me to a place where I will engage the culture, feed the sheep, and love the sheep. Years ago I was ready to minister to other Christians. And I did. I will continue to. The last few years the Lord has been getting me ready to minister to the world around me, and to equip the church to do so as well.
Right off the bat I’m going to launch into a series on the Holy Spirit called, “Holy Spirit, Batman!” I don’t know how many weeks it will last but I really feel led to teach on who we are in Christ, who the Holy Spirit is, what role He is supposed to play in our lives and followers of Jesus, as well as the gifts/tools he has for us individually. How do I communicate this in a way that the seasoned saint with get something from it, as well as the new or non believer will get the truth of it? How am I going to communicate what is usually regarded as a “higher level” topic to Forest Grove, OR?
Superheros. When some people look at nature they have “Aha!” moments where they suddenly get some spiritual truth they have been struggling with. For others it might be hearing a song (secular or not). For me, God has been speaking to me through superhero movies. When I saw The Incredibles God clearly communicated to me my own reality. God had equipped me with certain gifts that I was not/could not use. Consequently I was miserable in my work and family life. It was not until I had the opportunity to exercise my spiritual gifts that I knew joy and my family life improved.
When I saw Spiderman 2 in Huntsville, AL, just me and two strangers in this theater, when I saw and heard Peter Parkers struggle between being Peter (the flesh, his old self) and being Spiderman (the Spirit, the new man, the new nature), when he kept asking himself, “Who am I?”, it’s as though God gave me special goggles. All I say in that movie was Romans 7. I saw Galatians 5:17, “the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary to one another.” When Peter gave up Spiderman and lived fully as Peter Parker, he held down a job, his grades went up, and the love of his life noticed him. The only problem was the rest of the city was falling apart. When he came to grips with his new nature as Spiderman, when he let go of his love for MJ and went into full Spidey mode, he was stronger than ever before.
When I saw Superman Returns, I saw a similar parallel with Spiderman’s dilemma, as far as his nature and identity goes. The part at the beginning where Superman saves that plane hurling towards Yankee Stadium was heart pounding. Seeing someone operating in their nature that strongly is inspiring. But was really stuck out was the confrontation on the Kryptonite island. When Superman was exposed to radioactive pieces of his home world it weakened him. It nearly killed him. Exposure to his old world had a negative effect on him. Hmmm. Seems like I’ve read something like that in the Bible. The whole letter of 1 Corinthians jumps out. At one point, Lex Luther stabs Superman with a piece of kryptonite and snaps it off inside of him. Having the world in him nearly did him in. It wasn’t until this piece was removed that he was able to go, recharge himself in the light of the sun (Son?), and then have victory over his old world by hurling it out into space.
I’m getting excited to teach this study because its something that the Lord has been doing in me. I’m also excited at the potential that this illustration has in our culture. People, young and old, saved and not, can identify with Superman and Spiderman. I think it has great potential to communicate the truth of God’s word to a lost and dying world that so desperately needs it.