Your Inner Superhero

May 27th, 2011

On its opening weekend, Marvel Studios’ latest superhero-comic-turned-feature-film, Thor, electrified American box offices. Director Kenneth Branagh helmed the project, with Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk in the recent Star Trek reboot) starring as the titular God of Thunder.

While there have been numerous interpretations of Marvel’s Thor throughout the forty-nine years that the character has been featured in comic-book properties, the film version serves as an origin story as well as a prequel to the upcoming Avengers superhero mash-up film. It follows a young Thor as he’s punished by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), for his reckless and arrogant behavior. Thor lands in New Mexico when Odin casts him out of Asgard (the mythical realm of the Norse gods) and strips him of his superhuman strength, powers, and iconic hammer, Mjolnir. Meanwhile Odin puts a spell on Mjolnir that protects the weapon until a worthy hero wields it. Inevitably Thor sets off on a journey of self-discovery and must uncover what it truly means to use his gifts in service of others instead of to bolster his own ego.

Super-powered Faith

Most of us can relate to Thor’s journey (apart from the super powers and immortality and such). We go through times when we are motivated by pride and self-interest and put ourselves at the center of everything. We are guilty of using our gifts and talents to draw attention to ourselves or for material gain. And most of us have had experiences where we’ve been humbled, where we’ve realized that we don’t have all the answers, and where we’ve had to come to terms with our shortcomings and admit we need help. These humbling situations have a way of showing us that heroism isn’t about making a show of our talents and accomplishments but about giving ourselves in service of God and others.

We all need opportunities to identify and affirm our gifts and abilities. Our knack for math, skills on the saxophone, or natural charisma aren’t just tools we can use to land a job or get into college. God intends for us to use these gifts to bless the world. It’s easy for us, like Thor, to take these talents for granted, especially if they come easily to us. Instead of thinking of them as treasured gifts that we should cherish and use responsibly, often we think of them as ways to please ourselves and get what we want.

A Life of Super Service

When we ignore God’s larger purpose, we may find wealth or fame, but we miss a greater reward: the joy of serving and seeing God’s love spread through the world. As Jesus taught his disciples, wealth and fame aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. He said, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26b) and called the poor and the hungry and the persecuted “blessed” (see Luke 6:20-22). Jesus himself, though “he was in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6), humbly became a human being and lived a life of service. Paul writes, “[Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God honored him and gave him a name above all names” (see Philippians 2:9). As followers of Christ, we claim the power of the Holy Spirit. This power comes with responsibility (as Thor’s fellow Marvel superhero Spider-Man knows well). We have a responsibility to follow Jesus’ example of humility and service, to live a life of righteousness and holiness, and to be Christ’s witnesses. When we use our Spirit-given powers responsibly and faithfully, we can join with the church in an effort to transform the world.


This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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