“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
Ever heard of the X-Men? If not, ask your children or grandchildren.
The X-Men are a team of super heroes who have unusual powers and abilities. Comic book entrepreneur, Stan Lee created the X-Men in 1963. Because of genetic mutations, each of these heroes possesses a superpower. Cyclops, for example, can fire force beams from his eyes. Storm can control the weather. They use their powers for good.
The X-Men, however, are treated as outcasts by society. Because they’re different from the rest of humanity, they’re viewed with suspicion, fear and distrust. A hostile society regards them as dangerous freaks who threaten the existence of the normal human race. Despite this hostility, the X-Men persist in their good works, helping the very people who despise them. Their ever-optimistic leader, Professor Charles Xavier, dreams of a day when all humanity will live together in peace.
In many ways, the X-Men remind me of the way we Christians must live. We live in a society that does not share our beliefs and values. Instead, we show, by the way we live, that there is another way to behave — a better, kinder, nobler way to live in this world.
As with the X men, there has always been a tension between the people of God and the people of the world. Jesus warned us about this. During the Last Supper he told his disciples:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20)
So we should not be surprised if following Jesus Christ sometimes brings trials and even persecution. It is part of our calling in Christ – it “goes with the territory’ as the saying goes.
Yet, like the X-Men, we must not let this cause us to forget that we have a responsibility toward the human community at large. We’re not to shut out the world, but to serve it — whether that service is appreciated or not.
We do this, not because of a genetic mutation, but because of a change that is far more dramatic. I mean, of course, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised that the Father would send to those who trust him.
The Holy Spirit gives us superpowers – or rather supernatural powers. Not to have fire come out of our eyes or blades come out of our hands. The power God gives us is a power that changes our hearts, our attitudes and our motivation. It changes pride into humility, greed into generosity and selfishness into service. And, thus transformed, Jesus sends us out into the world as his agents.
Like the X-Men, we’re out of step with society. We live in the world, but do not partake of its evils. Instead, we exercise faith with the confident assurance that the fellowship of the people of God is the nucleus of a new world.
And that is not a comic book adventure. It is an adventure nevertheless, based on the truth of the greatest book of all.
Father, thank you that you have included me in the greatest adventure the world has ever known.
Study by Joseph Tkach