The hardest part about being a superhero has to be trying to live like you’re not; saving the world because it needs saving (& because, quite frankly, you do rather enjoy it), yet needing to keep your true identity secret because others will neither understand nor tolerate your being different from them – and because heroics probably don’t pay the bills. So you could say Spiderman’s biggest challenge is having to still be Peter Parker (I know you could say it about Superman’s being Clark Kent too, but Spidey & I go back a long way).
I just got back from playing hero. For 8 days (Aug 24-31), I slept & woke, ate & drank, laughed & shouted & sang with 36 amazing 17-year olds. I enjoyed their play, intervened in their quarrels, savoured their victories. For 8 days, we talked about their very personal problems, & I saw them encounter God in very real ways. For 8 days, I felt alive. Acutely, irrepressibly ALIVE. A superhero.
The web-slinging action soon comes to an end, however, & Spidey must shed the costume & return to “normal” life. I, too, still heady with the excitement of Camp, am trying to re-adjust to the mundane. But why, I wonder, should I even have to fit in at all? How can the general public can be so oblivious to all that hangs in the balance: the hearts of these young people, the hopes of their parents, the fates of generations unborn – eternal destinies, for crying out loud! Are people really so blind? Or do they only choose the ignorance of apathy over the adrenaline & anxiety of action? “Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing – until the flood hit & swept everything away.” (Matthew 24:38-39, MSG)
Puzzling over this, I see why I must continue to don my costume: divine empowerment aside, I’m as human (& therefore flawed) as the next man, & just as easily prone to inaction. A few more days at my day-job & I’d trivialise the stakes myself. That’s why I need to stay in spiritual shape – praying, studying my Bible & spending time with other Christ-empowered heroes – if I would remain keenly alert to this alternate reality. For it is this that truly defines me, this that is, I believe, at the core of of all reality.
Still, I wonder how the others fare, living for themselves out on the periphery. When will they wake up & smell the coffee: the strong savour of self-sacrifice – Christ for man, man for Christ, man for man – that percolates through all of life? When will they grasp the truth that at the core of Reality stands a Cross?
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26, NLT)