Friday, May 13, 2005

A New Kind of X-Man

The superpower that I wanted when I was growing up was the ability to move things with a wave of my hand. I wanted that power that was as combination of what the X-Man Magnito can do with metal and what the Professor could do with his mind. How fun would that be? The power to move things, lift things, throw things all without having to touch them.

Still to this day I pretend that I have this power when I walk into Wal-mart or any place that has automatic sliding doors. I walk like a normal human being up to the doors until I get a few feet away. Then a put my hands out infront of me as if I was preparing to push open the doors. But instead of pushing I wave my hands to the side just as I pass under the sensor and magically the doors open. For just a second I pretend that it was the wave of my hands that opened those big sliding doors and not that little, all-knowing sensor.

As I got older and "matured" in my faith, I began to pray for new superpowers. I prayed that God would allow me to speak in tongues. Then I prayed that I would be able to heal people with just a laying on of the hands. I mean, if Peter could heal with just his shadow, and we all know how unholy he was, then why not me with my bare hands?

I began to notice that I was praying for superpowers that God wasn't giving me. I also began to notice that at the same time God was rejecting my "need" to be a super-Christian, he was also using me to speak profound truths into peoples lives. He was using me to discern carefully in certain situations and inspire people to use their own gifts. He was using me in powerful ways, just not in the superhero ways that I thought were necessary to be a full-fledged X-Man Christian.

Then one day God caught me off guard. I was praying for some more superpower gifts and God reminded me of that section of scripture that is sandwiched in the middle of Paul's discussion about spiritual gifts to the Corinthians. I hadn't read that chapter in a while, but the Holy Spirit has a way of downloading scripture to your brain faster than This is what God said to me.

"Mark, eagerly desire the greater gifts." Ok. "I thought I was, God." I thought I was asking for the big ones. Then he reminded me. "If I speak in the toungues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

That little chat between me and God happened back about midway through college. And for the last 6 years God has been teaching me just how difficult and amazing that superpower is to have. A person that can love people well is a ridiculous power for the Kingdom of God. The power to love people well and to love God well trumps all other superpowers. Love is not just a gift. It is as miraculous as a hands-on-healing. It is more powerful than a prophetic word. But its miraculous power is only matched by its illusiveness. Loving people well is not something I can do on my own.

And I don't just mean I need Jesus, although He is who I need the most. Yes, without Christ, I am powerless to love well. But I have also found that in the last 10 months of being a "pastor-type-person," I need a community of people who love in order for me to love well. For me, to love someone, is a lot like young Luke Skywalker trying to raise his X-wing from the swamps by Yoda's house. He has just enough of "the force" to get it moving but not enough to get it off the ground. Now imagine a whole community of Jedi's using "the force" together. Its almost like Captain Planet. "With our powers combined..."

Love is the ultimate gift. Its the ultimate superpower. And it seems most powerful when demonstrated in community. Ever since that conversation with God back in college, I have never prayed for "gifts" the same again. And I am always reminded as I walk through those automatic sliding doors, that the "greatest of these" powers doen't move "things" it moves lives.


At 1:09 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Its always good to be reminded of this. We can be fully engaged in all types of church activities and duties, and humanitarian issues, but if we dont love, it all means nothing. For me, my love acts as a spark in which everything else flows. My love for the houseless sparks my actions to feed and share life with them; my love for my wife sparks me to do the dishes when I am tired and dont feel like doing it; and my love for Christ sparks in me a desire to become a more committed follower of Him daily. Thanks for the reminder.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger brendar said...

Mark I really liked this entry, I just couldn't think of anything to say about it!


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