Heroes and villains are the backbone of many a good story. Good versus evil. A damsel/city/planet in distress and a hero emerging from the margins to save the day, and preferably slay all the baddies along the way.
It has been done in a thousand different ways, and yet we never tire of it. It resonates deeply with our sense of how the world should be; the good guys triumph, the oppressors are quashed, and everyone lives happily ever after.
That is, essentially, the message of the Christian story, too: the world was enslaved to a wicked oppressor, then Jesus came in, defeated the enemy and freed his captive people. Yet you could be forgiven for thinking it hadn’t quite worked, looking at the state of the world today.
With the eyes of faith we can understand that in God’s timing the mission hasn’t failed, but is simply still rolling itself out, but to the eyes of a sceptic, you can see how it might look as though Jesus’ mission failed.
That’s certainly how it appears to Mark Russell, creator of a forthcoming ‘superhero’ comic strip for DC Comics. Last week I wrote a piece for LICC looking at how Christians could react to this new depiction. Is it a blasphemous abomination which they should (peacefully) protest about? Or is it a wonderful opportunity to explain the hope we have in the hero we’ve found? Perhaps it is both.
Have a read and see what you think:
‘Second Coming’ – Abomination or Opportunity (or both)?
DC Comics, famous for their depictions of superheroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman, is preparing a series, Second Coming, in which a new superhero, Sun-Man, teams up with Jesus to try to save the world.
‘The conceit,’ explains writer Mark Russell, ‘is that God was so upset with Jesus’s performance the first time he came to Earth, since he was arrested so soon and crucified shortly after, that he has kept him locked-up since then.’ Seeing Sun-Man’s performance, the Father thinks Jesus could learn a thing or two and sends him to Earth for another try.
Many Christians are rightly troubled about this utterly unbiblical depiction of the Lord, and have signed petitions calling for DC Comics to drop the series. For those who would like to express their strong reservations, this is a good way of letting media companies know that we love Jesus and are committed to seeing his name honoured and not mocked.
But the comic also gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk about our beliefs with our friends and colleagues. How will you respond if someone asks what you think about it? You could brush it off in disgust, or use the opportunity to bring light in the darkness.
We can learn from Jesus’ approach in this. When people questioned him about the controversial topics of the day, he refused to take their bait, and instead turned the questions on them.
So, if someone asks what you think about a cartoon depicting Jesus as a failure, why not ask if they agree that he messed up the first time round? Why do they think that? What would success look like to them?
Should Jesus have used superhero-like powers to wipe out all the bad guys so the rest of us can live in peace? The Bible’s view of the human problem is that we are all ‘bad guys’. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The wonderful news is that Jesus didn’t come to wipe us out. Nor was his goal to subdue humanity and make us obey him out of fear of the consequences. He came so we could be transformed into genuine ‘good guys’.
His crucifixion was not the failure it might first appear, but a glorious victory that was the only way the world could be saved. What an opportunity to share that good news with our friends!
This piece first appeared on: LICC