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What’s Your Superpower?

August 6, 2012

“What’s Your Superpower?” Ephesians 3:14-4:6 © 8/5/12 Ordinary 18B by Tom Cheatham at First Presbyterian Church, Amory, MS. All rights reserved. This edited version © 8/6/12.

About five years ago I ran a collegiate retreat with the theme “What’s Your Superpower?” It’s an interesting question, isn’t it: “What’s your superpower? What would you like to do? Which of the many superheroes from pop culture do you identify with?”

Thinking about being a superhero is fundamentally a reflection on our identity, secret or otherwise. The sort of powers we want tell something about our struggles, our goals, and our desires. Maybe there is a dark side we want to express or some lack we want to correct, and we are searching for a safe way to do that. Or rather than being directed inward, our desire is focused outward. I mean that maybe our heart is breaking over the state of the world, the plight of our neighbors, and we want to do something to help, to be bigger than just one person, to be somebody others will listen to seriously. We want to make a difference, to be persuasive, to be a force for good and right.

Well, we say, it’s fun to think about, and we wish the world were a better place, but none of us will ever have superpowers. And I would agree to a point. I can’t take down criminals, then disappear into the night or strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. As far as I know, you can’t fly or shift your shape to ooze under a locked door or turn invisible. We can’t turn back time or absorb bullet after bullet without being hurt or put out a raging wildfire with our breath. But God has given all of us superpowers. Or actually, super power. Dunamis uperekperissou, as the Greek text has it: power far beyond, abundantly far more.

This is a power so great, so comprehensive, so fulfilling that we haven’t conceived of it even in our wildest dreams. It pushes the envelope of our imaginations. It’s so fantastic, so far out, that we don’t know enough even to think about the fact that we haven’t thought about it.

What the author prays for and says God gives us seems simply impossible. It makes flying without assistance at warp speed sound like reality and child’s play.

Let’s look at part of the text again: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine….”

Do you catch it? Do you know what your and my superpower is, the dunamis uperekperissou? It’s the power to comprehend across time and space with every believer who has ever lived or will live, the power to comprehend, the understand, to grasp, to not let go of, every dimension of the love of God in Christ. How high, how wide, how long, how deep. The power—and this will stretch your mind for sure—the power to know love that is beyond knowledge. To know something you can’t know!

God is not a Being we’re supposed to be able to comprehend. St. Augustine said: “If you think you comprehend, then it’s not God you’re talking about.” But there it is in the text: the gift to know what is beyond knowledge. How’s that for a superpower?

But there’s more! Knowing the knowledge you can’t possibly know, comprehending every dimension of the infinite God, enables you and me to be filled with the fullness of God! That just can’t be! Our finite muscles can’t possibly work the works of God like lifting up the hurting or picking up the downtrodden. Our limited vocabulary cannot possibly express the praise of the Ground of All Being. Our hands cannot possibly reach out and make a difference and do work that takes us beyond our comfort zone. Our minds and hearts cannot hold everything that God wants to share with us. We’ll explode, we’ll go crazy, we’ll die.

Still, that’s the claim. That’s our superpower that we share with every believer who ever was, is or will be: we are filled with the fullness of God, a reality beyond imagination, beyond knowing, yet we know such a Reality, we comprehend such a vision.

If we want to make a difference, that’s the superpower we need. That’s the one we have. Being a believer. It’s a whole lot better than being Superman.

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