What can Superman teach you and I about our spirituality?
I have issues with God.
A little disclaimer before we get too far into this
You may have your own issues with God, the church and with Jesus. You may not even believe in anything or you may believe in very ‘traditional’ views of God, Jesus and religion. Regardless, if you are reading this, I hope you will stick with me and hear me out. I would very much like to hear from you about your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post.
My issues with God are about how approachable he is a father. My own father was distant, rigid, cold and hard to connect to. At times, I have felt the same way towards God.
A perfect God, perfectly unlike us?
I get that I am seeing God through the lens of my own father’s weaknesses, but my central question is how can you believe in a God who is perfect? Perfect is:
- Not like me.
- Not real, not open, not vulnerable.
- Unapproachable and untouchable.
Honestly, how I view God has isolated me from my own spirituality. When I do attend church, I keep people at a distance because it is easier that way. In a way, it’s a perfect combination, an unapproachable God and an imperfect church. Why would you want to be a part of any of that? It’s a mess just waiting to explode all over the place.
In a way, even Jesus gets thrown into the perfect-distance mix for me. As a child we used to sing songs like “Jesus never fails…” But the trouble that I have is how can you relate to a God who never fails? He is so… unlike us.
Yet there is still something that draws me to God.
Reaching the unreachable
It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I think that our spirits long for something to connect to that is beyond us. I wonder if we reach out to the unreachable because we want to know that we are not alone in our lives and in this universe.
Honestly, it feels a little blasphemous, but I will say it. I cannot relate to Jesus as Lord. He is Lord, but that echos of the distant-perfect-image-of-God. How do you relate on a human level to the Lord of the Universe?
I think this is why we are so drawn to superhero stories. Take Superman. He is invulnerable and bulletproof. He has few weaknesses, but his main weakness is that he loves humanity. It is his love for us makes him imperfect and approachable. His vulnerability comes out when he loves the people around him.
Superman has helped to change my mind about Jesus. Jesus was a man. He was perfectly real. Vulnerable, skin-on, approachable and imperfect… yet mysteriously perfect at the same time. Just like me.
For me, Jesus represents my longing for God and God’s longings for you and I.
Superman saved me from an unhelpful view of God
In a way, (to me at least) Jesus is like Superman – yes he is God, invulnerable and perfect. Yet his love for humanity is his greatest weakness. His love for you and I makes him imperfect and approachable. He is vulnerable and he loves us.
For me, it is easy to forget that Jesus was also a man. I get lost in the saved-the-world-from-hell story and I forget the other parts of his story.
- He was wounded and broken, just like me.
- He felt lonely and isolated, just like me.
- He was misunderstood and it pained him, just like me.
- He had unfulfilled dreams, just like me.
- He relied on broken people and they hurt him, just like me.
- He longed for relationships, for a legacy, just like me.
- He was compassionate and he had days where he needed compassion. Just like me.
Why is it that the parts of Jesus’ story that we can most relate to don’t get much airtime?
I think that is why it’s so hard for me to connect with church. I feel closer to God when I listen to U2 and Parramore than on most Sunday mornings. It’s because music is about our humanity. Most church songs are about the perfection of God and his perfect love (aka, his perfect, unreachable love). But music, that is about our vulnerability, our humanity and our longings.
Superman made me realize that no matter who your father is, your future is more important than your past. He also has taught me that being bulletproof or being able to fly is not the real story. I have realized that my tendency to isolate gets in the way of my growth as a man. What makes a man is our willingness to face our kryptonite with the help of other people. We find strength in our vulnerability.
If you are like me and you find God as Father hard to reach, maybe it’s time that you are born again into the church of Jesus-as-your-Superman? Jesus was perfect, yet his love for you made him somehow imperfect. His weakness, that is your strength. And he is approachable despite his strength and ability to fly to the heavens.
For me, that is a Jesus that I can love.
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Keep it Real
Previously published by smswaby on the Good Men Project