I love superman!
If you know me at all then it is no surprise to discover everything with me will eventually come back to the guy with the red cape! I named my firstborn son Clark, I have a man cave stacked floor to ceiling superman artifacts, I have Kryptonite on the dashboard of my truck, and it is not uncommon to find everyone in my household wearing superman embossed clothing on any given day.
Why do I love superman so much? I think I have been a fan because it is the story of a guy who is unique to this world by birth, and he takes the ability his birth provided him to make a distinct difference in his environment.
Whenever evil appeared, he was off like a shot to change from Clark Kent, mild mannered news reporter to SUPERMAN!!! Fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American way! Leaping tall buildings with a single bound, running faster than a speeding bullet, and more powerful than a locomotive. What is not to like?
My childlike faith can embrace all that is superman except for one thing. If there was one thing I never understood it was why choose a phone booth to change in. I am not sure if you have ever been in a phone booth, but they are tight, compact, and uncomfortable. So why choose a phone booth?
The fact is, phone booths are necessary if you want to fly. No one likes them, but they are what is needed if you want to wear the red cape.
Paul puts it this way:
"Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" ~Philippians 3:4-9
Paul was listing his "Religious Resume" and how in this resume of "doing" he found no satisfaction. The law will only produce failure if you are honest, and hypocrisy if you are dishonest. It was meant for one thing only, it was meant to bring death.
Paul was on the road to Damascus to persecute, in the name of God, Christians who were there when God introduced him to a phone booth.
The phone booth is the end of ones self.
Superman was still super even without the phone booth experience. Under the mild mannered guise, he was still different by birth. If you are a child of God, then you too are different by birth. Your sin nature has been eradicated, and you have the ability now to make an impact for the kingdom.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." ~Romans 6:1-14
This is a hard concept for many Christians to swallow. We were made righteous by the blood of Christ. We are made righteous by this new birth.
The problem is, we walk around when we should be flying. God brings us to a phone booth. It is a tight uncomfortable place where we feel like we cannot move. Ever been there?
It is precisely those places where we are forced to see our efforts to succeed in the flesh are just that, efforts in the flesh.
In the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul stated that everything he had found his identity in, he counted it to be dung. Why?
Phone booth time!
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:10-14
Paul emerged from the phone booth and took to the skies!
In the movies, it always makes me smile when I see superman step into the phone booth wrenching off his tie and glasses, because I know what is about to happen. He steps out as Superman to the amazement of all the onlookers. They are always stunned to see someone go into a tight situation, and emerge in power. Better from the phone booth, not worse.
If you have been in church any time at all, you no doubt have heard this phrase, "God never puts more on us than we can handle." I have said this statement before to people, but after much searching I have to say, this is a lie. This, my friend is a lie. It is a comforting lie, but still a lie. This is found nowhere in the Bible.
What I do find in the Bible is people who God put into situations that brought them to the end of themselves.
"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;" ~ 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
Paul said, "I was overwhelmed to the point I was ready to die...". Pressed out of measure, above strength...There has to be a place where we end, so Christ can begin. A point where Clark Kent will no longer cut it, and Superman is needed.
However he was able to tell the church of Corinth and through them tell us today, "He will yet deliver us!"
The world does not need anymore religious Clark Kents. Apologizing for taking up space and bumbling awkwardly around in social gatherings. The world needs us as Christians to "Be" who we are in Christ!
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." ~ Romans 12:1-2
Conformed to this world (Age) is not wearing pink hair and piercing your face like a tackle box. That is not worldliness. Worldliness is EGO (Edging God Out). Operating in your own strength. Worldliness shies away from a God's phone booth experiences because they make us look weak and helpless. "What would people think of me?"
Paul says rather to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our mind, that we may PROVE what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God!
Stepping out of the phone booth and saying, "I am different by birth, and because of these circumstances I can through Christ, make an impact on my environment for the Kingdom!
( Thanks for posing for the blog Clark!)
Are you in an end of yourself phone booth experience? Has a crowd gathered to watch you emerge?
( Chalkboard message that I left in a High school classroom )
Up, up and away!!! (That is superman lingo for Philippians 4:13)
Climbing with you,