One of the first prayers that I ever remember praying happened shortly after I watched the movie "Superman." My imagination soared as I saw the "Man of Steel" flying over the clouds and lifting trains without breaking a sweat. I wanted to be just like him!
I had learned in Sunday School that we could pray and ask God for anything and Jesus had said that anything we ask for "in his name,"we would receive. I decided to put that to the test so I went out into our backyard and climbed onto a big rock that was around three feet high. I looked around to make sure nobody was watching and then I closed my eyes and prayed the most passionate prayer I had ever prayed before:
"Lord, it's me, Dave. You said in your Bible that I could ask for anything in Jesus' name and you'd do it. Now, I've never asked for much, but this is really, really important. God, I'm going to jump off this rock, and I'm asking you to make me fly like Superman. Just like in the movie. I know you can do it! Please. Oh yeah...In Jesus' Name." I finished my prayer and I help my hands out like a Superhero and I took a literal leap of faith off of that rock and then...I flew!
Just kidding. I came crashing down to the ground. My pride and my faith were wounded, but I figured that maybe I had prayed wrong, so I climbed back on the rock and tried praying a variation of my original prayer, but the results were the same. It was disappointing, but I just figured that regular people weren't meant to be superheroes, because Jesus is the only one of us who is perfect.
As I got a little older and became more serious about learning God's word, I stumbled across a line in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount that stopped me in my tracks. It seemed to contradict everything I thought I knew about human limitations and I couldn't wrap my head around it. Jesus said, "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48
My first thought was, "WHAT?!" I was completely confused. It seemed like Jesus was saying that we were supposed to overcome all of our human limitations and shortcomings and be real-life superheroes. I pictured churches becoming places where everyone showed up dressed in tights and capes with perfect hair, bodies, minds and supernatural superpowers too. Maybe I really could fly off that rock in my backyard!
That whole thought was a mystery to me until I read another very familiar passage of Scripture that finally brought clarity: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13
The call to perfection is an impossible task in our own strength, but I believe this is precisely the point. One of the most consistent lessons of the Bible is that we need to go through life connected to Christ. He is the vine, and we are the branches. He is the Head, and we are the Body. Over and over, we are taught that we can do nothing apart from him, but through Him, we can accomplish anything.
So get out there and change the world! God didn't create you to sit on the sidelines. He wants you to take His love and Grace into this broken world and change the world in the process. You can be a real-life Superhero (without having to wear tights)!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.