Good News-We’re not Superheroes!
We live in a culture that is superhero obsessed. This is not just the comic book characters but includes celebrities, leaders and sports personalities. Our stories often are about people with exceptional qualities. The most intelligent and beautiful are presented as the norm we should all aspire to. The top few are praised whilst everyone else is ignored or despised.
The truth is that most of us cannot be like the image presented. Even if we could we would soon be replaced by the next up and coming greats. Even those with a reputation for excellence are extremely flawed in many ways. It is OK to be normal. In fact, it is normal to be normal. The constant attempt to be superhuman is destructive to our well-being. There is a real danger we will either be crushed by a sense of inadequacy or self-deceived with delusions of grandeur.
The Bible has some very important things to say about this issue.
The Bible is in two parts. The first part was written before Jesus was born at Bethlehem. This is the Old Testament. The second part of the Bible, the New Testament, was written after Jesus was born.
One of the main features of the Old Testament was the Law. The Law was given by God and promised to bless anyone who kept it but curse anyone who didn’t. The Law is perfectly good, but mankind isn’t. Despite people’s strenuous efforts over hundreds of years, no-one was able to keep the Law. The last word in the Old Testament is ‘curse’ (Malachi 4:6).1 lest I come and strike the earth with a curse
The New Testament is largely about Jesus. He is the only perfect man who totally kept the Law. Jesus came and completely fulfilled all the requirements of the Law (Matthew 5:17).217 “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfil. Part of His fulfilment of the Law involved Jesus dying upon the cross at Calvary and being raised from the dead by God. He did this to take the curse of fallen mankind (Galatians 3:10, 13).3 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,”
Jesus’ first major message in the New Testament took place from a mountain and is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. It begins 400 years after the Old Testament ended with a curse. Jesus’ message begins with nine different blessings!
People do not automatically come into these blessings. We access what Jesus has done for mankind by believing in Him. The nine blessings are traditionally called the Beatitudes. These map out how people come into God’s blessings and what results from God working in people’s lives.
The first requirement to come into the blessings of God is to be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).4 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Being poor in spirit means to realise that we are not superhuman but people who rely upon God for all we have. We cannot impress God by what we do or who we are. We cannot redeem our lives because spiritually we are bankrupt and cannot afford the price of this (Psalm 49:7, 8).5 7 none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for him. 8 For the redemption of their life is costly, no payment is ever enough, God is nauseated by people who think they are great and who do not need Him (Revelation 3:16, 17).6 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;
The story of Mephibosheth illustrates this (2 Samuel 4:4, 9:6-13). Mephibosheth certainly was anything but superhuman. He was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan. Now Saul and Jonathan were killed by the Philistines and David became king. When Mephibosheth was fleeing for his life, at the time of the Philistine defeat, he had an accident which crippled him. Even his name was unfortunate because it means ‘dispeller of shame.’
King David had no reason to like Mephibosheth. King Saul had really mistreated David giving his wife to another man and forcing David to flee for his life living in caves on the run. When David was capturing Jerusalem, the occupants taunted him that even the crippled could stop David from winning. This upset David so much he passed a law that no crippled person could enter the king’s palace.
Poor old Mephibosheth had nothing going for him. He even lived in a place called Lodebar which can be translated as ‘no-pasture.’ Imagine then his anxiety when King David summoned him to Jerusalem. It was considered good practice in those days for new kings to kill all the families of their rivals. A descendant of Saul would certainly have qualified for this.
When Mephibosheth appeared before David he expected only bad things. David however, showed the mercy of God to Him. He treated him as one of his sons. Everyday Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table. Also, all the lost lands and possessions of Saul were given back to him.
God is not impressed with superheroes, but He is impressed with His son Jesus. He will bless any who acknowledge their spiritual poverty and truly put their trust in Jesus. God then shows His mercy though we don’t deserve it. We become numbered amongst His sons and will dwell with Him forever. We also receive a wonderful inheritance.
We should not, therefore, be too worried if we don’t measure up to the world’s standards of greatness or celebrity. All these things will soon pass away but God’s approval is forever (Psalm 103:13-17).7 13 Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him. 14 For he knows how we are made. He remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass. As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone. Its place remembers it no more. 17 But Yahweh’s loving kindness is from everlasting to everlasting with those who fear him, his righteousness to children’s children,
Can you think of ways our culture makes unreal demands upon us to be ‘normal?’
How can we avoid being influenced by the unreal demands placed upon us?
Think of some examples of what it means to be poor in spirit?