Superhero? Stash the Cape and Walk with Humility

Walk in Humility

Do I stash the cape or keep it? It’s fun designing characters for a children’s book. Artists and authors often use attributes they see within themselves or others for character development. Though super heros in flowing capes make great comic heros, they are hard to live with in daily life.

Recently, everything coming my way (videos, sermons, personal studies) focuses on the element of humility — an attribute I possess too little of! As much as I desire less pride and more humility, achieving that goal often requires time and effort.

Paul wrote to the Philippians,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

Zap

These wise words establish godly perspective. In both artistry and life, perspective is everything. How we position ourselves in relationships determines how vibrant those relationships become.

Looking Down

When artists portray a character struggling or defeated, they view the image from a high angle looking down. The reader will automatically perceive the character as being fearful or shy. Even slight variations, like a hand turned upward, give the subject a subordinate position.

For most people, deliberately assuming this lower position creates internal struggle. For most people, only rarely do we willingly desire to appear inferior to others.

Superhero

Jesus noticed this propensity to choose the best seats, highest places, and honored positions. In Luke 14, He tells His followers,

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor . . . take the lowest place . . . “
Luke 14:8-11

Sooner or later, self-promotion ultimately leads to humiliation! Most of us consider ourselves too cultured and dignified for such brash behavior. But I honestly need to ask myself a few straight questions: How willing am I to seek advice? How readily do I receive correction, especially if it is from someone not in authority? Do I ask others for help or do I find my own way?

For me, these are all difficult. I would far rather be the teacher than the student or the one who provides than the one receiving. Most of us gladly halt what we are doing to help others, but stutter when asking for similar assistance.

Boom

For relationships to grow and mature, they must be reciprocal. Lopsided one-upmanship disappears when we let go of pride and perfection, offering permission to stash the cape. Reciprocal means giving and receiving — a willingness to take the lower position.

Eye to Eye

I hope many genuine relationships fill your life. Paul says,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement for being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2:1-2

The strongest relationships I enjoy are those “united with Christ.” Though natural families form incredible bonds, spiritual ones become even stronger. When our natural family also becomes our spiritual family, we possess the best of both.

Hero

What propels relationships grounded in Christ? The first two attributes Paul mentions are the comfort of Christ’s love and sharing in the Spirit. To know how loved we are, despite our weaknesses and failures, releases us to love others — not as superiors but equals. Eye to eye! The Spirit dwelling within us, leads us into a fuller re-presentation of Christ in the world.

We can stash the cape, leaving any superhero facade behind. Walking on a common level, we experience tenderness and compassion, similar mindsets, and mutual love for each other.

Looking Up

Every picture book or movie presents a hero by looking from what is called the “worm” view. With a few artistic strokes the hero looms large, powerful, and independent within the scope of their surroundings.

A child running through the yard with fabric flowing off their shoulder’s announcing the world will soon be delivered, brings smiles from adult onlookers. Unfortunately, many of us carry our imaginary capes into adulthood, viewing ourselves with superhero status: superior and strong.

Pow! Bang!

We pull invisible capes from who-knows-where and masquerade as someone significant. Oh, don’t worry, we maintain our “Christianese” behind the polished mask of false humility.

Jesus’ words echo in my heart as a warning,

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Matthew 23:11-23

Scripture gives no room for “might” or “maybe.” They will be! Experience has taught me, the sooner I choose the low position and look up, the better for everyone!

One Hero

When I’m willing to stash my cape, refusing to pretend super Christian status, I clearly see the real Hero — the only Hero, the true Hero worth looking to. What made Him so heroic? He lowered Himself lower than I could imagine, becoming nothing, so we could become everything He designed us to be.

” . . . he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:7-8

Jesus became Superhero #1, for all time, for all people. He didn’t just stash a phony cape; He left Heaven, descended from the highest place of glory and power, to become like us — dust. Talk about a giant step downward!

Kapow!

Only when we see our glorified Lord will we fully understand how low He came. And the result? He snatched a dying world from eternal hell, trampled the head of that slimy serpent, and declared victory over every oppressive dis-ease the enemy once unleashed.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

Stash the Cape

Jesus set the ultimate example, showing us how to restore relationship. The One who could have come like most comic strip heros, looking down on the world, didn’t! He could have dominated, intimidated, and controlled, but He wouldn’t.

Jesus came — looked humanity in the eye and walked at our level. He allowed people to pay His way, wash His feet, and serve Him, without feeling demeaned. Jesus also lifted people (demon possessed, adulterous, wicked, sketchy, diseased, contaminated people) from low positions. Each time, He demonstrated honor and value.

Stash the Cape

So why do we struggle to stash the cape, to show our flaws, and be real with each other? Why do we obstinately refuse the low road?

Jesus chose a different way.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;”
John 13:3

Because Jesus KNEW — understood completely His identity in the Father and His ministry — He was secure. The same possibility is true for us! Insecurity causes us to reach for superficial capes and earthly titles. Insecurity motivates us to look down on some, compare ourselves with ourselves, and desire the accolades of others. Security allows us to stash the cape and relate honestly.

The Frame

Every artist or illustrator considers how to “frame” their characters. Wide angle, or close-up? Left, right, or center? Through reading Daniel, God reminded me of the “frame” I need to walk in humility.

A dream disturbed King Nebuchadnezzar. He called in all his astrologers, magicians, enchanters and sorcerers — his full arsenal of dream interpreters — demanding they both tell him the dream and interpret it. They panicked, “You’re asking the impossible! No one on earth can do what the king asks!” (Daniel 2) True story!

Daniel quickly solicits the prayer support of his friends. As a result, God reveals both the dream and meaning. When he approaches the king with the answer, Daniel clearly says, “God in heaven reveals mysteries. It isn’t about me or my wisdom. I’m no better than anyone else, but God wants you to know and understand.” (Dan 2:28-30)

Daniel showed complete humility. He responded to situations by taking the low road, seeking the help of his comrades, claiming no credit for himself and desiring the good of others.

Supermom

That’s our frame for humility. God exalted — first, last, and middle. Others honored as better than ourselves.

So when you see the evidence of pride (no matter how subtle) in my strut, carried in my continence, or waffled in my words, I give you permission to tell me plainly, “Stash the cape, girl! Be real!” Please help me swap my phony cape for the legitimate cloak of humility.

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A Hero – “If You Need Someone Strong, I’m The One!”

Hero or Superhero

Have you met a hero? One day at work, a gaggle of overactive preschoolers ran past my office door: two girls with long hair bobbing, followed by two enthusiastic boys. One little guy in the middle announced with exuberance, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

True heroes are rare! I have no doubt this youngster has the right attitude!

I broke out in open laughter in response to such confidence coming from one so small. The more I thought of it, however, I realized I should possess this same buoyant enthusiasm.

“No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37

Small but strong hero!

God planted inside each of us a desire to overcome, triumph, defend justice, and fight for what is right. Children don’t hide it socially like adults do, but we all have this godly desire.

Overcome

Ask any child to name their favorite superhero and you might be there for awhile! The “first” superheroes emerged in the 1930’s. The list of imaginary “supers” is long!

Ask an adult the same question. Their ballots may include people of excellence in sports, arts & entertainment, social justice or a multitude of other fields.

A hero, according to Oxford Dictionary, is someone who is “admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” Look around for a moment. You will see heroes hidden behind humble acts of service rather than standing in front of a microphones or cameras. True heroes live well

parents, teachers, doctors, plumbers,
farmers, truckers, nurses, administrative assistants,
husbands and wives, neighbours and friends
courageously and faithfully
feet to the road and grit in their teeth

When there is unrewarding, difficult, relentless tasks, heroes say, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Yet, at the same  time, they face their humanity with all its limitations. Listen to this:

“…For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

Heroes face their impossibilities not with drooped heads but rather with hearts of courage and eyes fixed upward.

Superheroes are made not born!

“I’m the one!” kind of people don’t back down from a fight; they press in to overcome!

[bctt tweet=”If you need someone strong, I’m the one!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Triumph

Heroes face grave opposition and come through! In knowing their strengths and their weaknesses, they are prepared to accentuate those strengths and place extra protection over their weakest area.

 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.”
Ephesians 1:10-11

Actually, most of those who triumphed in the bible were not seeking front-line duty. Think of

Esther a young non-descript Jewish girl,
David, a young shepherd,
Samuel, as a small boy, dedicated to serve in the church
Moses, a foster child, a ward of the state, run-away, then shepherd
Gideon a farmer or Daniel a refugee
Ruth, a widow,
Peter, James and John, simple fishermen

High risk and no visible guarantee marked the tasks ahead of them. None of them had their hand raised saying, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Overcome evil with good

As a matter of fact, they were reluctant to step into God’s assignment. However, all of them grasped the truth

 “…What is impossible with man
is possible with God.”
Luke 18:27

Like true heroes they put on their God given armour and fought the fight of faith, triumphantly bringing good over the evil in their day.

Miraculous

Some of the last words of Jesus resonates as a call to heroism.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation
….and these signs will accompany those who believe;
In my name they will drive out demons;
they will speak in new tongues;
they will pick up snakes with their hands;
and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all;
they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Mark 16:15-20

Greater is HE that is in us, than he that is in the world!

Clearly “superhero” stuff, right? Yet, Jesus said, these superhero qualities are for all “who believe”! Now that is a bold kind of faith!

Oh, but it is a faith that those who believe are running with!

Everyday people are set free from demonic strongholds, bodies are healed, minds restored, and some are even raised from the dead. Faith is being activated in people globally to walk as God’s heroes, trusting His word, and radically taking risks.

Faith is often spelled r-i-s-k! It may feel risky to pray for the sick to be healed, until they are. It may also feel risky to step into the fray and cast out demons, until they do. We will never see the dead raised to life, until we ask.

I can tell, I’m losing some of you here, but listen again to what Jesus commanded:

Heal the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Freely you have received; freely give.”
Matthew 10:8

I am convinced we have received far more through faith in Jesus Christ than we are presently accessing or releasing.

SuperGram

There is one more hero you, of course, have never heard about. Her name is “SuperGram”. Apparently one of her greatest powers is “master-mind”.

If you need someone strong, I'm the one!

The reason you have never heard of her, is because she was just so “bestowed” only yesterday!

Yes, only yesterday, my 6 year old grandson came to where I work secretly announcing my new position. Of course, he revealed his own super status and the secret powers he too possessed. He went around lavishly disclosing the hidden super hero strength of others as well. My girlfriend was instantly dubbed “Lightning Woman!”

I chucked and I’m sure you are too!

Yet at the same time, I feel Jesus nudge my heart just a little, “you are far more super hero than you realize”!

Why? Because

“Ye are of God, little children,
and have overcome them:
because greater is he that is in you,
than he that is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

Why? Because God is greater! The One who resides in us is greater than all else! As God’s children, we may be small, but we are overcomers!

Take this fresh motto from a child, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Embrace God’s truth; be a hero!

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Further Reading

Normal? What Does It Mean To Be Normal Christian?

Does Faith Stand Alone or Does Faith Require Action?

Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child