Over the years I’ve taken an interest in the super hero movies that have come out. The writers and studios are making some great stuff. For whatever reason, when I watch these movies, I see some kind of parallel with the Christian experience. Well, at least the Christian experience as is it supposed to be. I blogged about it sometime back. With all three Spiderman movies and with Superman Returns, there are some profound illustrations of the battle between the old nature and the new nature. The flesh versus the Spirit as it were. These heroes have to come to terms with who they want to be which, in turn, dictates their actions and priorities. I even named the teaching series I did on the Holy Spirit, “Holy Spirit, Batman!” But I never used Batman in any of my teaching. I never seemed to see any parallels between his experience and that of the believer. Just last night I figured out why.I forget the exact name of the show, but The History Channel did a special on the psychology of Batman. One of the fundamental differences they pointed out between Batman and most superheroes is the fact that Batman is an ordinary human. I knew this, but I didn’t realize the significance of it as it relates to the rest of what I’ve observed in the other movies. Superman is from another planet. His nature is different from that of humans. Spiderman was bitten by a messed up spider and that bite altered Peter Parker so that his nature had changed. Both of these guys are more than human. They have had a change in nature. The same isn’t true for Batman.
What does Batman have? He has training. He has his intellect. He has the tools he has invented. To battle his own inner turmoil and the bad guys of Gotham, he has himself. While he may beat the bad guys, he will never be able to deal with himself. He can’t. He is incapable of it. In oder to be healed of his wound he needs a new nature like the other guys.
Batman is a model of the unsaved in that people apart from Jesus only have the flesh to help them. People can be very resourceful. People can be very creative. People can be very strong. People can wear masks to convince the world of their resourcefulness, creativity, and strength. But at the end of the day, even after defeating the enemies, there is still something broken, something empty, something anxious inside. Just like Batman. In fact, Batman feeds on his fear, on the wound of his parents death. He finds his identity (literally) and his strength in that event. Yet he is still human. He is still weak. He is still just a man in a mask. An extraordinary man, but a man none the less.
Spiderman and Superman aren’t perfect. But they have a resource, a fundamental difference that they can call upon. A new nature. Christians are the same way. Apart from Jesus people are fallen, trapped by their nature with no way to be free of it by their own efforts. It is only be means of a new nature that people can be free. Paul said that he had been crucified with Christ and he no longer lived but Christ lived in Him (Galatians 2:20). He also said that if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In that same passage he says that we have been reconciled to God. In order for something to be reconciled an exchange must take place. Jesus exchange His life for ours, His nature for ours. He did this so that we could be right with God. We can’t do this on our own. It’s called grace.
As cool as Batman is, he is still just a man. He can never be more than that even with his wonderful toys. What are you relying on? Toys? Intellect? Strength? Status? Money? A mask? These things put on a good show but they can never save you. You may be a philanthropist like Bruce Wayne, you may put your life on the line for others and even be considered a hero to some like Batman, but until you have a new nature, until you have died to self and been raised again in Jesus (Romans 6, 1 Thess 4:16, 5:10), your righteousness will be as dirty shop rags. Jesus died and rose again so that you might have life. A new one. A real one. Do you know Him?
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