In anticipation of the trailer release of the upcoming movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, I decided to amp myself up by catching up on the past Superman films.
Enter Zack Snyder’s 2013 blockbuster, “Man of Steel.”
As a huge movie buff and a theologian (Yes. You’re allowed to be both of those things), I found myself once again searching every scene for a redemptive narrative that tells the ultimate story of God reconciling humanity to Himself.
And maaannn, did I find gold!
In one pivotal scene, Jor-El (Superman’s father) tells his son Kal-El/Clark Kent (Superman), “Earth's sun is younger and brighter than ours was. Your cells have drunk in its radiation, strengthening your muscles, your skin, your senses. Earth's gravity is weaker yet its atmosphere is more nourishing. You've grown stronger here than I ever could've imagined. The only way to know how strong is to keep testing your limits.”
It’s not even one of the more action packed scenes in the movie, but it really got me going! I know it’s a little bit of a theological stretch, but what Jor-El says the sun and earth’s gravity will do to Kal-El’s body is comparable to what the indwelling Holy Spirit does to each follower of Jesus Christ.
- The sun strengthens Kal-El to be “super” so that his muscles are stronger, senses are intensified, and his body is nourished.
- In a somewhat-similar fashion, the Holy Spirit strengthens us to do the humanly impossible, intensifies our sensitivity to the Father, reveals His heart to us, and transforms (nourishes) us more into the image of Christ with ever-increasing glory.
Boom! I just Jesus-juked Superman!
But here’s what really captured my imagination. It’s the last statement from dad to son where he says, “The only way to know how strong [you are] is to keep testing your limits.”
That. Blew. My. Mind!
It blew my mind because it means Kal-El would only be as powerful as the risks he was willing to take. We actually see this in the following scene when he makes his first few attempts at flying. After a few bumpy landings in his first try, he nails it and soars into the skies for the first time as superman.
I couldn’t help but wonder if that picture was/is true for us as followers of Jesus Christ. I wonder if it holds true for me?
The Bible already tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, (so conversely, great faith in our lives pleases and moves God’s heart to act). Jesus even backed it up by saying if our faith was as tiny as a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Not molehills. MOUNTAINS!!! He even went as far as saying that as His followers, we would do greater works than He did if we believed in Him.
Greater works than Jesus? For real? Have you read some of the things Jesus did???
If this promise is legit, (and we have every reason to believe it is), then it means that just like Kal-El, the only limitation on accomplishing great things for God is our fear of taking a risk in His name.
To be clear, the risk being called for here is not a reckless-jump-into-something-that-I-have-no-idea-about kind of risk. Rather, the risk I speak of here is more deliberate, and has everything to do with your unique gifting. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 tells us that, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” This passage means that God has given you a gift package. In your unique gift box are multiple gifts. Some of them are spiritual gifts; others are natural talents and special abilities. God assigned these to you so that in the active use of it, you will find where and how you fit perfectly into His redemptive plan for humanity.
The best part is that each gift/talent/ability is supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit so that when you put it to work, it accomplishes significantly more and monumentally greater than if you had simply operated in your own strength.
But here’s the deal, in order to reach the full potential of your God ordained awesomeness, YOU HAVE TO KEEP PUSHING THE LIMITS ON THOSE GIFTINGS. You have to dare to go where you haven’t yet gone in those areas that come most naturally to you.
Superman [though innately powerful] didn’t know he was super in the movie until he jumped and found out he could defy gravity. He didn’t know how strong he truly was until General Zod began to mess with the people he had come to love, (Spoiler Alert: There’s an awesome/awful neck-breaking scene). Similarly, you will not know how much the Holy Spirit living within you can do in you, for you, and through you until you step out of your comfort zone [familiar use of your gifting] and take some risks into unfamiliar use of your gifts and abilities. The reality is that in order for you to get to the next level in your growth, you WILL need to step outside of the familiar and trust God for some things that probably scare the crap out of you. Your success might very well reside outside of your current set of routines and experiences!
The only way to discover how mightily the Holy Spirit can work in you through the gifting and abilities God’s already deposited in you, will be to (in the words of Jor-El) “keep testing your limits.” An added benefit to this work of the Holy Spirit through your bold risktaking is that it'll inspire others who might be fearful, to finally take a step of faith! So, without even knowing it, your willingness to push the limits on your gifting is actually a catalyst for others to step into their calling!
How amazing is that?
So, what do you rock at? What areas of your life have you experienced applauded success?
Got that figured out?
Next, think through an unfamiliar territory or manner in which you can leverage your particular set of skill.
Match both of those up, and when you’re ready, go do something awesomely unfamiliar!
You just might find yourself soaring!