Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Super verses Supernatural
This is a photo of my brother-in-law Christopher. Hehe, I remember the day (a number of years ago) I was preaching on the topic of 'Superman vs Supernatural-man' and asked Chris if he would mind wearing this costume and acting as a visual aid. Even though he wasn't thrilled about it, he did it - and I am very grateful! Just look at the pleasure you're getting from looking at his photo! Seriously though, thank you Chris!
Here are some of the notes from that message - you may like to read them:
So what does a power filled person who is relevant to the world in which he lives, look like? (ENTER CHRISTOPHER – when I got saved, I became Superman!!!)
Now here is the mistake we all make – we think that God has asked us to become Superman (or woman) when we get saved. I want to show you that God isn’t requiring us to be Superman, he has enabled us to be Supernatural Man! It might sound good to be superman but there are many flaws with this way of life and the only way we can be effective here on earth is by being supernatural (living from our spiritual source) We look at the ‘image’ of superman and we can immediately feel locked out of our purpose because we will never be superman! Let me explore with you, three major differences, three keys to help you and I to move from feeling locked out to entering in and understanding ‘how to’ be powerful in a relevant way and make a difference.
1. DITCH THE DISGUISE.
For the majority of Superman’s day he lived as Clark Kent. He disguised his true identity, he covered up the true nature of who he was. When we adopt a superman mentality one of the flaws is that, for a large percentage of our day, we disguise our Christianity – we cover up the supernatural being that we are. Think about celebs who disguise themselves to blend in, to avoid being noticed. I see it from a very young age with the children I teach - they often don’t want to do anything that will draw attention to themselves – they so desperately want to be the same as everyone else. Superman disguised himself as Clark Kent – someone who looked the same as everyone else. We tend to think that by covering up who we really are, by looking, acting and living the same way as everyone else, is the very thing that makes us relevant. God is very clear that he doesn’t want us to conform to the world around us. As Christian we are called to be different – J.B. Phillips translates this verse in Romans12, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould” This is not easy.
We are called to remain distinctive, to retain our Christian identity, wherever we are and whatever the circumstances. We are not called to be chameleon Christians – to fit in with our background. Being different does not mean being odd! We are not called to wear weird clothes or to start speaking in a peculiar religious language
(Acts 2 highly significant that the first time men spoke in tongues it was the language of the people – they heard the glories of God being spoken in their own language – Pentecost is about connecting with people in their own language!)
Relevance can be defined as ‘connected to what is happening; useful or suitable for a purpose’. To be relevant requires us to be connected to (not conformed to) the world we live in, and to be useful and suitable for God’s purpose. The question we should constantly ask ourselves is this: Are we connected to the world around us? Are we useful to the world outside the church? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news? (it’s a question we need to ask!) The message is powerful (it has the power to save) but how beautiful is the messenger? We can’t afford to blend in – our difference is what makes us beautiful, useful and relevant, connecting our world to the living God. Ditch the disguise.
2. SUPERNATURAL DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO LOOK SPECTACULAR.
Superman demonstrated spectacular power at times of crisis. His power ‘saved’ people whenever a crisis arose (he got into his little phone booth and changed to reveal his true identity). Remember this is not a changed life we live, it is an exchanged one – one to be lived out 24/7. Now what Superman did in times of crisis was spectacular and I’ve noticed that there is much confusion around in the church about the difference between spectacular living and supernatural living.
We seek the spectacular – alter calls, detailed prophetic words, a huge conference – rather than the naturally supernatural process of the Christian life. We then come to associate supernatural events only with spectacular intervention from God. So, if we are not enjoying a spectacular encounter we cease to believe that we are truly spiritual.
Once we are born again we become Supernatural Man – we are in a relationship with a God who loves us – a process which is fundamentally supernatural. Is faith supernatural or spectacular? For the most part it is a supernatural process, a daily trusting in God as you take each step of your Christian life. The power is in the process.
I believe that we have been so busy looking for the spectacular in our lives that we have missed many of the God whispers. God is saying listen for the whispers church. One of the greatest things you can bring to your life and the lives of others is a heart that is open to and cooperative with the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve been so touched by the story of Naaman recently – he was the leader of the army of the king Aram, a mighty warrior and held in high respect, but he had leprosy. An Israelite servant girl spoke to Naaman’s wife about him seeing the prophet Elisha. Naaman asked for the king’s permission to go and the king also contacted Elisha’s king (the king of Israel) commanding him to have the prophet heal Naaman. So the stage was set for a very high-powered encounter. (READ 2Kings 5:9-10) This was not what Naaman was expecting! The prophet didn’t even come to the door! Instead he sent his servant who suggested he dip in the filthy Jordan river. And why not in the cleaner waters of other rivers he was familiar with? Consequently – 2Kings 5:11-12. His rage was in danger of robbing him of a supernatural intervention simply because it was not spectacular enough for him!
God is naturally supernatural and wants us to learn to live each day in a supernatural process that embraces all kinds of ordinary things that are actually supernatural in nature and impact. Fortunately Naaman saw sense and did the ordinary thing, which turned out to be quite supernatural, and he was healed.
You might not ever have a pulpit ministry, you might not ever be able to melt hearts with a singing voice, you might never be able to dissect the word of God like some of the great preachers you know (whatever you associate with the spectacular) – but your everyday life, interacting with others can be so supernatural. Long-standing Christian marriages working through problems – that’s supernatural. Single parents working through the practicalities of getting to church every week – that’s supernatural.
3. PLAN ON GOD’S PERFORMANCE.
Superman was a one-man performance show. When we have a superman mentality it leads us into dangerous territory. We begin to think that we can do life ALONE (invincible – don’t need anyone else – no awareness of the BODY of Christ) and we get caught up our own performance plan (how do I look, what do people think of me, if someone sees me doing that surely I will be promoted into a more important ministry etc) We get caught up in ourselves and our performance. We often sing ‘it’s all about you – Jesus!’ and being a supernatural man is about recognising that all the power we have is from Him and it’s HIS performance that makes us relevant! (not ours) You can be so incredibly gifted but if it’s channelled into your performance (not His) you can miss the very people and places that God has called you to be relevant to. When we try to force our performance on the church and others when God is not performing you will be as relevant as a cow ice-skating!!! Live from God’s source not your force.
Jerm 1:11-12 - Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, "I see a branch of an almond tree." Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word."– we are branches of a vine, abiding in Him. Jeremiah was called to watch and when he saw the almond, it meant that spring was coming. The almond means wakeful hastening. Wake up and watch for things to intensify in your life and around you this season. Watch for a new blossoming. Branch-out into new areas. He is ready! When God is ready to move it means he is watching, waking, hastening and anticipating – he is sleepless, alert and vigilant – to build and plant in the earth that which he has blueprinted in heaven.
Once we are abiding in him, he can accomplish, confirm and continue to bring us into the fullness of his plan. The performance is his! To perform means to stir up, strengthen, succeed, accomplish, advance and appoint. When he performs he fulfils, finishes, gathers, governs and grants us that which we need to complete our assignments. There will be a performance! Let him be the performance of your life. Lay down your performance and enter into his.