Prayer. Bible reading. Scripture memorization. Fasting. Worship. These are a few of the spiritual disciplines we hear about the most. We know they are valuable. We understand how they should have a regular place in our lives. When pastor preaches it, we “amen” him all day long. But it still seems so hard.
If you are waiting for spiritual disciplines to become easy, you’ll wait for a long time. No fresh recruit goes straight into S.E.A.L. training. No one who sees a video of that training thinks they can jump off their couch and jump right in.
Spiritual disciplines are essential to spiritual living because of the spiritual battle we face all day, every day. Yet they rarely come naturally. They take work. We face challenges as we attempt to integrate them into our daily lives. But they don’t have to be as hard as they sound, and we don’t have to master them overnight. Despite the difficulty, we can learn to be “super” at them.
One of my good friends travels North America, calling people to prayer. He likes to say, “Prayer is not just for Super-Christians.” (His name is Kevin Senapatiratne, and you can learn more about his ministry at www.christconnection.cc.)
When he speaks, and in some of his photos, Kevin likes to wear a superhero t-shirt under a sport coat, to help tie in the “super” theme. A recent photo of him got me thinking about this post.
Two kinds of “super”
Previously, the only shirts I had seen him wearing were Superman logo shirts. In this newer photo, he wore a Batman one. When I consider that quote of his and the message he shares with people, I prefer Batman.
Now, I’m one of those people who didn’t bother with the Batman v. Superman movie earlier this year. Don’t let my choice of hero shirt make you conclude which one I prefer. Because that would be Captain America. But, anyway …
When I saw him wearing a Batman shirt, I thought about the difference between Batman and Superman. Both are heroes, good guys, saving people and doing amazing things. But the way they are “super” is very different.
Superman is an all-out alien from another planet. He is super because he is not of this world. He was born with his abilities, though it took a long-distance move to reveal them. As long as he stays near our sun and away from the radioactive remnants of his homeworld, Clark Kent will always have the power of Superman.
There is nothing inherently super about Batman. Unlike his Smallville counterpart, Bruce Wayne is not an alien whose body derives power from the sun. Though is intelligent and filthy rich, he just an ordinary guy.
How to be “super”
The bridge from “ordinary” Bruce Wayne to “super” hero Batman is found in two personal factors we can all learn from.
First, Bruce Wayne is committed to his cause. If the billionaire didn’t genuinely care about the people and city under his watch, he would just give up. His compassion drives him to become than he already is. The safety of his city and its people are his cause, and that cause is worth the effort to become the fit, trained, prepared, and watchful Batman. This makes him a hero.
The foundation of what makes Batman super is the collection of tools he employs. Sure, it’s partly due to Bruce Wayne’s genius and wealth, but it’s all about his tools. Vehicles, computers, relationships, a grappling gun. All of these tools make Batman super. Otherwise he is just a guy who is already ready for a costume party.
Recognize and embrace the journey
Though it would be easier for us, spiritual disciplines aren’t automatically programmed for us when we come to Christ. There is no Matrix-style download. Our reborn spirit yearns for God’s touch, and we need it to thrive. But it doesn’t just happen.
It is important for us to learn and remember this because we so often look at our heroes and think we could never be the person of prayer or fasting or Scripture memorize we seem the as. To us, they are super and we are ordinary at best.
We forget how they are ordinary, too. The Apostle James, when talking about the power of prayer, used the Old Testament prophet Elijah as an example of a superhero of the faith who was just an ordinary person like the rest of us.
None of us have to start at Elijah’s level, but we can get there. And there’s even better news when we look at Elijah’s story. His successor, Elisha, proves we can go even higher than our heroes, for he received twice the anointing Elijah had.
The trick for us is to partner a commitment to spiritual disciplines with a growing tool belt to help us accomplish the task. A lot of tools with no commitment to the cause just bog down our daily walk. If are full of commitment but don’t utilize our custom tool belt, we’ll just keep feeling like a failure.
We forget how the Christian life is about continual growth. Yes, we are fully saved, fully adopted, fully reborn. But is the just the beginning of a journey, of a life full of growing until we are present with Christ.
You can be “super” at spiritual disciplines. Give yourself the time to go from ordinary to fully equipped. don’t up on the cause of growth and a deepening relationship with God. Finally, learn to celebrate the steps of your growth. You might be closer to super than you think.