Everyone knows who Superman is. The name, the symbol, the cape – they are all iconic and remind us of the character and what he represents: Truth, Justice, and the American Way; he stands for ideals that are universal in virtue. Regardless of what nation to one belongs, Superman has a worldwide appeal. While many characters have come and gone in comics and pop culture, some even more powerful and more interesting on paper, none have the type of appeal that he has, even today. He is Kal-El, the ultimate outsider, the last son of Krypton, jettisoned to our world as a baby. He looks just like everyone else, but deep down, he is different. He was sent by his father here to be Earth’s protector, doing things that others can only dream of. Why is it that he is so popular? I think that it’s because, deep down, everyone wants to be Superman. We want the power and the ability that is at his disposal. With his power, virtually anything is possible.
However, he isn’t Superman all the time. The power is there for him when he needs it, but for the most part, he is ordinary Clark Kent, just like us. However, when hard times come, just like the old Fleischer cartoons or George Reeves television show, Clark steps away into a phone booth (you kids say, “What’s that?), and upon leaving, he stands equipped to take on whatever evil there is. I am a self-proclaimed comic-book geek, and rarely, if ever, can I immediately recall Clark ever fighting evil until he stepped aside and put on the suit. He always felt the compulsion to ready himself first. When times were really tough, he’d fly away to his Fortress of Solitude. There, he would learn from his father, Jor-El, who prepared for him there everything he would need to know to be all that he needed to be, whatever faced him.
I say all that to illustrate this: I believe Christians have enormous power available to them. While Christians may appear to be like everyone else on the outside, I find the Bible to show Christians to be different, a “peculiar people” as Scripture says. Just like Clark, though, I believe Christians can’t face troubles in the same way that everybody else might try to do. When the situations of life escalate, I believe it is wise and necessary to “suit up”, and when it’s really tough, heavy prayer is required: communing for lengthy times with a focused intensity with the Father in solitude, waiting for answers before we act. Without it, the situation will overwhelm, if faced any other way.
If there was ever a symbol as associated with Superman as anything else in his lore, it is ‘kryptonite’, and in the history of the character, we seen it come in all shapes and sizes. It has been used in its natural form and synthesized to a particular purpose, and it seems like whenever readers most expect it or when they least expect it, it always appears, weakening and immobilizing the hero. Now, relating that to our lives, I believe everyone has that certain something that wars on them, a particular sin, as the Bible describes it, that is personal to them in its power and level of control. Personally, I’ve found what affects me negatively can be something very personal to me that has little to no effect on you (i.e. one person may deal with issues of anger, whereas another battles issues of lust; neither struggling all that hard with what the other deals with). For instance, Batman could probably juggle a whole load of kryptonite with no effect on him whatsoever (and let’s face it…of course, he can. He’s Batman). Sin, whatever its form and whether it appears naturally dangerous or innocently so, can still cripple a person when they are exposed to it. It can immobilize them, and as certain kryptonite variants have done, it can even control. Like Superman, all of that power that was possible is robbed or perverted to a bad purpose because of exposure to it without readiness to deal with it. Granted, it always seems like Superman, by the end of the issue or episode, finds a way to beat its effect, but sadly, not all people do. I’ve known many who have sadly succumbed to addiction, depression, and any number of things that have swallowed up their entire lives. Usually, in Superman’s moments of weakness, it takes a rigorous focus and a reaching inside of himself to grasp the power necessary to beat kryptonite’s sway. I believe Christians, in the depths of sin in their lives, need to refocus on the power available inside of them, made available through the Holy Spirit. Through it, they can beat back what is trying to claim them.
A character so rich in allegory, I could go on and on about Superman. Maybe I will come back to him in another piece, but for now, I hope that what’s written here will help you to find the power inside to beat what’s holding you down. I believe that “all things are possible through Christ who gives us strength”, and may this be an encouragement to look to Him in your life.