Waiting On The Real Superman
By Dr. Mike Murphy
Much of my childhood was spent saving the world! Almost daily I had on some form of a cape pretending to patrol Gotham City or flying over Metropolis. Like so many other boys my age, I would always manage to swoop down just in time to save the city and all of its’ terrified citizens, who were fleeing one of the many evil villains.
How else could we have possibly dreamed of filling our playtime each day? We watched the cartoon Super Friends every Saturday morning. Every weekday evening, like clockwork, we were glued to the television screen. We watched as Batman battled the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and more for the heart of Gotham City. Everyday, same bat time, same bat channel! Then it was time for Superman. And for the next thirty minutes we would hear the call, “Superman will soon save us!” We watched as evil would siege the streets. The people frozen, helplessly in panic. Then Clark Kent would emerge from the familiar phone booth, just in time to save the world.
As an adult, I look back and wonder about those people of Metropolis. They often knew evil was coming, but did little to prepare for it. You never heard them warn others of what dangers would soon be coming. Then they stood in the streets almost icebound as the evil approached. But through the screams of hysteria and terror, you always heard the proverbial words,. “Superman will soon save us”!
As we grew up and put our childhood dreams of play aside, we soon realized that the citizens of Metropolis were just fiction, designed to draw a young boy to that television screen everyday. But when we look at them closely, we also have to begin to realize that they were not very different from us, the Church, today.
The people of Metropolis were fully aware of the evil around them. They saw it destroying their lives and their society, recognizing it for what it was. They would turn their faces up, looking to the sky in search of, and waiting for one who would come and save them from the evil that surrounded them.
When we look at the world around us today, we see a situation not much different from the one the people of Metropolis were faced with. Daily, we see evil becoming more and more ingrained within our society. We look every direction and see the face of evil rising from our very streets. And with each glance, we often find ourselves looking to the sky for a bright flash of light, knowing that One will come to save us.
But what does the Bible tell us about this situation? Paul wrote of this very issue in 1 Thessalonians 5. Here he wrote, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thess. 5:6) There are three words in this verse we need to take a very close look at.
First, not sleep. The Greek word here means “to be aware, not to be ignorant or unconscious of the situation around us”. Second, watch. The word here means “to be alert and vigilant, to make sure nothing destructive should suddenly overtake us”. Third, sober. The word here means “to be in self-control, to be calm and collected in spirit”. In seeing the meaning behind all three words, we form an incredible understanding of what Paul was telling us in this verse!
Paul shows us that we are to be aware and awake to the events of the world around us. Although our future does not lie in this world, we are a part of this world. We should always be conscious and informed of the actions this world is taking everyday. The Bible tells us we should be able to answer and defend our faith at all times (1 Peter 3:15). And unless we are aware of the events that surrounds us we cannot do so effectively. This is a world that needs to hear the answers that only God can provide, and He has called us to work vigilantly to reach the world with these answers (Matt. 28:19-20, Luke 19:13). We can only achieve this when we are aware and able to recognize evil, and are filled and collected in the Holy Spirit, who is the only One that can provide us with the needed answers as we go about the work God has called us to do.
We can look at the early Church to see this very example. Life for early Christians who lived under the rule of Rome was not easy. They daily faced persecution, knowing that they might have to give their life for their faith at any moment. Rome required all to proclaim Caesar as god, putting Christians at odds with the very heart of their faith. Rome looked upon early Christians as traitors and outlaws, and many were lead away to their death because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as “Lord”.
Despite all the hardships they faced, the early Church continued to grow. The early followers worked diligently to proclaim the Good News of Christ to all those around them. Even at great risk, they followed the Lord’s command to bring His message to a needing world. But in this message they also found great hope. The common greeting of the early Church became ”Maranatha”, an Aramaic word meaning “the Lord is coming”. They lived for the promise that one day the Lord would return for His followers and to set up His kingdom. In this greeting was taught, when we look down we see the earth and all of its’ problems. But when we looked up, we see the promise and hope that the Lord would one day bring. They knew until that day came, much work had to be done. There was a world out there that they had been called to reach, and people all around them in urgent need of their One true hope. But the message they had for those in need became clear. To those who were discouraged by all the world held around them, Maranatha! To those facing problems they saw no way out of, Maranatha! To those who saw no hope in this life, Maranatha! The word became so much more than a greeting, it held the promises, the anticipations, and the desires that only Christ could bring!
Today, we need to follow the example our early Church forefathers set for us so many years ago. It is time we, the church, rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We have a world to reach and a short time to do it in. But while we are working earnestly on all the Lord has called us to do, we need to keep an eye on the sky. Because,one day, very soon, we will look up and see “The Real Superman”!