Who hasn’t seen a Marvel movie these days?
Superheroes are everywhere in pop culture: today’s comics, movies, TV shows, games, and novels frequently feature characters with superpowers.
While these characters and their powers may be fictional, their cultural impact isn’t. More people are enjoying superhero stories than ever, mostly because they identify with the characters.
So what, if anything, can Christians learn from superheroes?
1. Heroes rely on strong moral compasses.
As a culture, we might love superheroes because they’re strong, but we also love them because they’re good.
The most popular superheroes in today’s movies and comics—Captain America, Spiderman, Ironman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, among others—all demonstrate a continual commitment to fighting for the side of good.
Captain America fights Nazis, Superman protects the earth from invading aliens, and Spiderman guards his hometown of New York City. Every superhero story involves the forces of good defeating the forces of evil—audiences wouldn’t be satisfied if evil won!
Our favorite superheroes demonstrate qualities that everyone wants to have: mercy, strength, love, tenacity, obedience to authority, selflessness, and even gentleness. In many ways, they often model the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
So what about Christians who want to be “superheroes” of the faith? Heroism starts with a commitment to embody the fruits of the Spirit and fight for the right side in the spiritual war around us.
2. Even heroes have flaws.
Even though our favorite superheroes do their best to obey moral laws and follow their conscience, they also fall short of perfection quite often.
We identify with superheroes because, at the end of the day, we see that they’re human like us. When they’re drawn toward evil, they sometimes give in. Even Superman, the Man of Steel, has his weaknesses!
Throughout superhero stories, we see our heroes as they’re tempted to give up the fight, exact revenge on their enemies, or use their gifts for selfish reasons instead of the greater good. This reminds us that, even though they’re supremely gifted, they’re still susceptible to the same flaws as we are.
For those of us who follow Christ, the call to obedience and holiness is indisputable (1 Peter 1:14-16). Jesus set the example, and once we have surrendered our lives to Him, we’re commanded to follow in His footsteps of goodness.
God knows, though, that we are still human. The process of sanctification is exactly that: a process. No matter how much we want to be like Him, we don’t instantly become perfect the moment we accept Christ!
As we pursue our faith with commitment, we will still find ourselves falling short of perfection, so it’s helpful to remember that God knows our struggles and forgives us, as long as we keep seeking Him and asking for His help.
3. Each hero has special gifts to be used in a team.
The most popular superhero team—The Avengers—is comprised of individuals whose gifts are vastly different, yet surprisingly complementary.
Captain America is a natural leader. Ironman develops technology for the whole team to use. Thor can fly, so he patrols the skies, while the grounded members of the team, Hawkeye and Black Widow, stick to protecting civilians in the streets. And the Incredible Hulk…is big!
This diverse team of superheroes works well together because they realize each of their particular talents are suited to particular circumstances and areas of the fight.
Likewise, Christians are given spiritual gifts in order to work in a team mindset! (Romans 12:6-10) Some of us are gifted in leadership, others in teaching or encouraging, and still others in hospitality or showing mercy.
How do your special gifts work in conjunction with the gifts of Christians around you? Have you learned how to work with others strategically in order to fight the good fight?
Christians are not meant to minister alone; we were made for community (Romans 12:4-5). If we’re going to be true heroes of the faith, we need to be working together and using our gifts from God in harmony.
While today’s superhero stories may be getting progressively edgier (and thus should be taken with a grain of salt!), it’s good to remember why our culture often views superheroes as role models.
As Christians, we can even learn a few things from these heroes—as long as we remember that Christ is our ultimate Hero!