Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Hero's Eternal Struggle

Continuing on yesterday's theme (namely sin), I wanted to share with you an image that has stayed with me all through childhood.

As a kid I was really into the Superman movies (though as an adult I can appreciate that really, only 1 and 2 were of critical worth). An image has stayed with me from the 3rd movie (it's about the only decent bit of the film). It involves a fight in a Metropolis scrapyard. To set the scene, Superman had earlier been exposed to contaminated kryptonite... which instead of making him double up in pain, changed his nature into that of a corrupt selfish individual.

However, after committing various evil deeds, something happens... he gets a nauseating headache and is forced to land in a scrapyard. As he clutches his head, his alter ego Clark Kent emerges from within him. This is the scene that I always remember.

Evil Supes and Clark duke it out and throw junk and stuff at each other (pictured below). Supes is seemingly quicker and more agile (but in reality they are the same person... it's just his TRUE persona is mild mannered). It ends with the evil Supes dumping Clark into a compactor... and you think that's that, as he walks away. Suddenly there is a jolt and Clark pulls himself free. Another fight begins but Clark gets the drop on Supes and strangles him from behind. Supes disappears. The familiar Superman tune fires up and Clark pulls open his shirt He's the TRUE Superman again.

Or again, it is like in The Iron Giant. The robot in the film carries some seriously impressive hardware and weaponry; when he sees his friend hurt... he goes on a rampage and starts disintegrating and melting tanks. When he sees the boy Hogarth is still alive, he snaps out of it. He makes a conscious decision and declares "I am not a gun!" It's a good job he did because there is a nuclear warhead descending on the townsfolk and only The Iron Giant can stop it by sacrificing himself. He flies into it in space and his last words are what he truly wanted in his heart to be - "Superman!" (Don't worry, it does have a happy ending).

That's what we have to do... stop being the gun and start being the Superman that we truly are.

So what does this all have to do with sin?

It reminds me of the struggle we all face within. Some days, if we let our guard slip... our sinful nature breaks free and tries to reassert itself. It basically tries to go on a Superman rampage. However, at some point we get a headache... or should I say soulache. It's at this time that God is calling us to account... and the person he shapes us to be, springs forth in the power of Christ (for that is the only way it can), then comes the titanic struggle. It is a struggle we all face. Paul wrote this in Romans:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

That can be quite confusing because of all the do's and do not's. What Paul is basically saying is that he's human... like you and me. He struggled with sin just like you and I, and he fought his own personal Superman. Yet he admits he does not have the strength to do it in himself. What is the answer? "What a Wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ his our Lord!"

Jesus is the answer.

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I do not write these words to you as a mighty preacher, or wise sage. I am merely a fellow traveller along the road who has had his fair share of struggles... and yes... sometimes struggles even today. I wanted to write this to tell those of you who don't know, how to combat sin in your own life (turn it and temptation over to Christ), and to remind anyone who has forgotten about also.

Be Clark Kent, be the true Superman... not a gun.

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