Posts

Justice League: Heroes & Insecurities

Rating: 3/5

Screen shot taken from Official Trailer

Written By Lydia Tan, Singapore

What makes a person a superhero?

Would it be his superpowers? (That would exclude Batman, since the only thing he has is money.) Or a track record of being undefeated? (Superman may be in trouble then.) Or is it simply a person who overcomes his fears to do the right thing in the most trying of circumstances?

In Justice League, our beloved DC superheroes all come together for the very first time to—of course—save the world. Things are not easy, however, because our favorite man of steel is lying six feet underground (watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to find out why). That leaves the ridiculously wealthy yet lonely Gotham defender the task of putting together a team of people who barely know each other and who have their respective insecurities and inner demons to fight.

What adds to the challenge is that unlike our dear Bat friend, these guys actually have superpowers—and strong personalities. Put them all together, and the sparks naturally fly, thus raising the question: Can they put aside their differences in time to save the world from ultimate destruction by the evil Steppenwolf and his fly-like underlings? (In case you think the answer is obvious, don’t forget—even Superman can die.)

It’s not an easy challenge. Throughout the movie, we see the insecurities of each superhero laid bare onscreen. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Batman: Trusting others and working in a team
Flash: Acceptance, fitting in
Wonder Woman: Fear of failure, lack of confidence in her leadership ability
Aquaman: Uncertainty, averse to change
Cyborg: Identity, self-acceptance

Each of the superheroes has to confront his or her insecurities head-on if the Justice League is to triumph. To avoid giving any spoilers, I’ll just focus on one—namely the only female superhero, Wonder Woman. Through a conversation with Batman, we learn of her reluctance about taking on leadership responsibilities for fear of bringing harm to the people she cares about. Will she be able to step up to the plate when called for? That’s a question she has to answer in the final showdown.

For me, this is truly a moment of identification. That’s because like our DC heroes, we, as believers, have a great mission to carry out which also involves saving the world—and like them, we may each have our own set of insecurities that hinder us from doing so. Insecurities that hinder us from our task of telling others about the only One who can save us from our sins.

These insecurities could stem from deeply rooted fears such as the fear of offending someone, the fear of not having enough knowledge of the gospel to share, or simply, the fear that we are not living up to what we tell others about the gospel. We can become immobilized as a result.

But like our DC heroes, we can choose to defeat our insecurities if we draw not on our own strength and ability, but on the divine power of the One who can truly bring salvation to the world. “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:14-15).

Let us take heart and draw courage from Jesus himself to lay aside our insecurities and our inner preferences for the cause that is worth living and dying for.

Then, we just need to take the first step. As Batman tells Flash on their very first mission together: “Save one person. Don’t talk, don’t fight, get in and get one out.” In other words: Start by sharing the gospel with one person. No excuses, no defenses, just do it.

Why I’ve Always Loved Superheroes

Written By Desiree U. Angeles, Philippines

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Batman. I know it’s probably unusual for a girl to like this character, but I’ve always found the winged hero fascinating because he could defeat villains even though he didn’t have any supernatural powers.

Perhaps I loved Batman also because I was constantly bullied when I was in elementary school. Every time I was pushed around, I wished I had Batman’s indomitable will, intellect and physical prowess to fight back instead of running to a corner and covering my head in fear. I even tried asking my mom to enroll me in a self-defense class, but she didn’t.

So I became hooked on shows about superheroes. The more I watched, the more I hoped that one day, I would find a hero who could protect me from my oppressors—that is, if I couldn’t become a hero myself. My obsession with superheroes even started to drive a wedge between some of my friends and me. Many of my classmates just thought I was weird.

The bullying, however, didn’t stop, which made things even harder for me. I felt that nobody would ever love or accept me for who I was. Nobody could ever understand my feelings, and nobody would ever dare to love and accept a freak like me. So I clung onto my childhood fantasies and consoled myself with the thought that superheroes would bring me happiness.

That was until I got to know Jesus. I can still remember the day my mom and I were invited to attend a Sunday service at a local church near our neighborhood. There, I learned about a superhero that was not fictional (unlike Batman and the rest of the Justice League). This superhero was Jesus Christ, who came into this world as a man to live among us and bring us back to the Father. This hero was unlike any that I had seen on television. He cared for me deeply, knew me fully, and sacrificed everything to save me, even His own life (John 3:16).

This superhero also stands beside me and guides me every step of the way. Unlike the fictional characters from DC comics, He is alive and always close to me, protecting and loving me unconditionally. He accepts me in my brokenness, He loves me more than anyone else, and He can change me completely.

This truth blew my mind. Slowly, the grief I experienced during my days of getting bullied faded away. Just as Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds”, Jesus healed my wounds.

Some of us like to search for superheroes, especially in times of trouble. We may even cling on to our friends and families and view them as our superheroes. But we have a true and living God—the ultimate superhero—who is far greater than any hand-drawn comic character or human being we know.

Photo credit: N. Feans / Foter / CC BY

Doctor Who: The Unlikeliest of Heroes

Written By Karen Kwek, Singapore

I can’t wait for The Doctor to return in August 2015. No, not any of the medics in Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy—this is The Doctor who pre-dated them all. I’m talking about Doctor Who, the British science fiction series that has picked up a worldwide following in recent years.

In 2013, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special was broadcast simultaneously in 94 countries. Not bad for a millennium-old, space-and-time-travelling alien with an average physique and no supernatural powers whatsoever! That’s right, The Doctor, in his various regenerations (he takes on a new form when he “dies”), is more like your bumbling, eccentric Physics professor or the techno geek next door than Superman. You’d be hard pressed to find a more unlikely defender of Planet Earth.

“When they made this particular hero,” says series writer/producer Steven Moffat, “they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an X-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like The Doctor.”

What kind of hero? Someone who fixes broken things, who’s just a phone call away, and whose physiology speaks an overflow of love.  Because, when you think about it, isn’t that exactly the kind of hero that the human race will always need?

Think about it: Some of the disasters we suffer, like earthquakes, tsunamis and pandemics, come from nature, but our moments of greatest suffering—genocide, terrorism and racism, just to name a few—are caused by human strife.

We don’t need a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the Doctor’s time machine masquerading as a blue police call box) to see that this has been true throughout human history. Even at the individual level, petty rivalries and unkindness mark our everyday lives. To God, the Divine Doctor, we are terminal cases: condemned and unable to save ourselves.

But God has done something about it. He stepped into time and space as a man, and as the unlikeliest of heroes, at that: a nobody, the son of a carpenter from a backwater in Galilee, with no beauty or majesty. He was despised and rejected by humankind; he was not a man of steel but of suffering, and he was familiar with pain. (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Yet such a man came to heal the broken, the lame, and the blind, taking upon himself the punishment for our rebellion against God. In this life, disaster will still plague us from within and without, but as Jesus’ sacrifice reconciles us to God, we can face suffering with the certain hope of a perfect eternity with God. In Christ, God has given us the ideal remedy for our terminal illness.

And so, this August, when I’m watching The Doctor on his manic missions to save the planet, I’m going to be extra grateful for the salvation that Jesus, our ultimate hero, has won for us. “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

Why Heroes Don’t Necessarily Do the Exciting Stuff

My husband is a computer whiz. Naturally, family and friends consult him about their computer problems. One day, he was helping a friend (whom we’ll call Jake for now) with some computer issues when he noticed a few things that caused him to suspect Jake might be struggling with some internet-related temptations.

My husband told me and we talked and prayed about it. We eventually decided that, in obedience to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15, he should talk to Jake. It was not an easy decision and neither of us looked forward to an uncomfortable conversation with Jake. After further prayer, my husband pulled Jake aside one day and gently asked him about it. They had a good conversation, during which Jake was very open and honest about some of the things he was struggling with. The two of them agreed to meet with a pastor and adopt accountability and practical measures.

Although we did not fight any giants, save any lives, or brave any mythological perils, it is not an overstatement to say that the decision to talk to Jake was heroic. We sought God’s will and made the best decision we could in accord with the wisdom of the Bible.

Heroic actions are not necessarily exciting or impressive. In the Bible, the story of Ruth gets its own book, even though it initially seems rather unremarkable. Ruth is a Moabite widow who followed her mother-in-law Naomi back to the land of Israel. With no man to support the family, Ruth had to gather excess grain from the fields of a wealthy relative of Naomi’s. At one point, Naomi told Ruth to pursue this wealthy relative. She did so, and he married her. The story is hardly as exciting as the story of Esther, Moses, or David. Yet Ruth not only gets her own book in the Bible, she even gets a mention in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17). This suggests something extraordinary.

I believe that God blessed Ruth with such a legacy because she made bold decisions and pursued His will. Firstly, she insisted on returning with her mother-in-law to Israel even though Naomi had tried to persuade her otherwise. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” she told Naomi in no uncertain terms (Ruth 1:16). She knew the right thing to do and she knew who the true God was. Hence, she willingly gave up the comfort of her own homeland and family to pursue that.

Secondly, Ruth was not timid or superficial in pursuing Boaz. Naomi suggested it, and Ruth acted on it without an argument. This was a careful decision on their parts. They needed the support of a man in the family, and I believe that they had considered Boaz’s character before Ruth made the proposal. Boaz was kind to his workers (Ruth 2:4) and was kind to Ruth (Ruth 2:14-15). His actions after Ruth’s proposal only proved their confidence in him. The decision to marry was perhaps practical, but it was also wise and bold, and God was pleased with their courage.

It is interesting to note that God is not mentioned in the book of Ruth, except in 1:6 and 4:13. Ruth did not have direct divine guidance in any of her decisions. But she knew God, and she boldly made everyday decisions in pursuit of God’s will, and God blessed her for it. That’s what makes her a hero.