One of my favorite movies is the first Avengers. The courage and bravery of the heroes, especially Captain America, is something that I admire.
Near the end of the film there is a world news scene (after the heroes save the city) about the public opinion of the various superheroes. There are two types of opinions in this scene, the first type are the ones who are fearful of the Avengers and want them to answer for the damage they caused to the city, the second type are the ones who are thankful that the heroes saved them. I was almost in a rage with the first group, thinking: they just saved your lives how dare you question them! Would you rather be dead?
Then a woman who was being interviewed responded to the critics of the Avengers,
“What, that this [destruction] was all somehow their fault? Captain America saved my life.”
At least someone got it.
As I thought about that scene I noticed that it was the people who weren’t in immediate need of saving that were against the Avengers. Little did they know that if the Avengers did not step in, the whole world would have been in ruins.
Then it would have been different; then they would have prayed for the Avengers to save them.
It’s kind of like the people Jesus came to save.
Like the Avengers, He encountered two types of people, the religiously confident and sinners. The religious people (i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees) thought they would be saved by their actions. They were so angry with Jesus when He ate with sinners and tax collectors (Matt 9:10) because they thought those sinners did nothing to deserve a Rabbi’s company.
The religious people thought they deserved some respect from Jesus because of their hard work. The sinners on the other hand, were so open to Jesus that they came from miles around to see Him. They were in need and knew it.
Those that saw their need for healing, who saw their need for saving, came to Jesus.
The religiously confident were the ones who hated Jesus and wanted him to answer for the commotion He had raised among the people.
The Bible says that Jesus and His disciples turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). He showed intense, unconditional love. He destroyed the social dynamics of the culture, giving sinners confidence and comfort. In turn the religious were uncomfortable and afraid, so they had Jesus killed.
The problem with the religious people (the problem with me) is that they don’t realize that their self-righteousness is an attempt to barter with God, to control Him.
Self-righteous people think they deserve something in return for their good works. But why should God give us anything?
The Bible frames that question in this way,
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4 NIV)
While I was meditating on that question a couple of years ago I had a disturbing thought. As I was looking up at the stars this vision hit me:
The universe is so big and humans are so small. Why do we go about our daily lives as if nothing could ever happen to us? Meteors and planets are flying through space around us at thousands of miles per hour and I think God owes me a good life because I work hard for Him?
That thought brought despair into my soul; my religious to-do list can’t protect me from a meteor much less a car crash or a hurricane. How can I be certain that I have done enough to be saved?
I need a superhero to save me because I can’t do it on my own.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16,17
Jesus is going to come back soon, is your confidence in Him or in your spiritual resume?