Super Duper

We had fourteen superheroes for lunch on Saturday It was my grandson Adam’s fourth birthday and I offered to host the party!! We had five Spidermen and three Batmen, plus Bob the Builder and Robin Hood. Four little fairies also turned up with their mummies. The photo shows Adam in transition between his Spiderman costume (top half) and his Batman one(trousers). His Dad had worked out a whole lot of neat games with a superhero theme, and one of them was a kind of quiz. The older lads polished off the harder questions, and left us to fairly distribute the rest of the lollipops to kids who weren’t quite so familiar with Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne. By the time we got down to the littlies, the question was just the basic “Who is your favourite super hero?” One girl answered Barbie but still got her treat; each to her own.

I got to thinking, “Who is my superhero? Who would it have been when I was four?” Given that I called my first doll, who arrived on my fourth Christmas, “Cinderella”, I guess the gal who achieved upward mobility from cleaning duties to dancing with the stars must have ranked pretty highly. At primary school, it was definitely the Famous Five who figured high in my value system (solving crimes figured even then – see last week’s blog). Then in adolescence I began to discover some amazing women – in stories like The Nun’s Story, The Sound of Music and A Town Like Alice, and a biography, The Small Woman, about Gladys Aylward, missionary to China. Feminist critique might find faults in these as role models, but to me as young woman finding her voice, they were inspiring.

In adult life, I have come to deeply admire some of my teachers and many of my ministers, and through the blessings of mass communication , even people I have never met, like John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Eugene Peterson, Edwina Gateley and Joyce Huggett. In reflecting on these wonderful people, people who make a difference in the world, I can see a couple of character traits they hold in common – authenticity and integrity. Authenticity means what you see is what you get. There’s none of that gaping discrepancy between one’s public and private persona, that is being exposed in so many leaders today. Integrity is another way of looking at the same thing: the sense of balance and integration between the different areas of one’s life. I appreciate, for example, the ability to find the equilibrium between mind and heart, task and relationship, family concerns and global issues, and to hold in balance the lessons of history with the demands of contemporary society.

I was privileged to learn from one such hero this last weekend. Our speaker at church was a Kiwi minister who currently works in an aid and development agency in a huge third world city. His insights into the twenty-first century clash of civilisations integrated his Biblical worldview, an incisive account of the failures of colonisation, a hope for the future through peace-building, and a wickedly self-deprecating sense of humour. “J” is a Christian who walks the walk as well as talking the talk. He is widely read and theologically astute. He is my hero, for this week anyway. He’s the kind of follower of Jesus I want to be.

Of course when it comes to heroes, Jesus leads the field. He never sought flattery or adulation; on the contrary we call him the Servant King. In him we see the ultimate in authenticity, and the integration of all of life. We get the whole picture of human potential, when we Jesus praying, and listen to his teaching on intimacy with God, when see Jesus battling Satan in the wilderness, and teaching about a pure heart, when we see him ministering in great power, and hear him teach about the Holy Spirit, when we see him help the sick and needy and teach about caring for our neighbour, when we see him proclaiming the kingdom and treasuring Scripture, and when we see him integrate sacred and secular in a life of practical worship. (These six themes come from Richard Foster’s Renovare movement). Jesus’ full and complete life with God is my paradigm for a “godshaped life.” (Proverbs 11: 28 the Message). Superhero perhaps not, but super, yes, and a hero indeed.

To Chew Over: Who was your childhood hero? Who do you admire and emulate today? Why?

Tell me what you think about your friends at the top.
Who'd you think besides yourself's the pick of the crop?
Buddha, was he where it's at? Is he where you are?
Could Mohammed move a mountain, or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that? Was that a mistake, or
Did you know your messy death would be a record breaker?
Don't you get me wrong.
I only want to know.
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Superstar,
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Tim Rice