Have you ever visited a “hall of fame” such as the one dedicated to people who played a prominent role in rock-and-roll located in Cleveland, Ohio? It must be quite an honor for your name to appear there. There is a link on their website for the 2019 inductees. You find names like Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks on this list. The Zombies are listed as well. The first year that people were inducted into this hall of fame is 1986. That first class included Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, James Brown and Elvis Presley, to name a few that I recognized.
Each inductee had a superpower that set them apart from thousands of others who contributed to rock-and-roll. Some played an instrument. Others had outstanding vocal abilities. Still, others wrote songs, produced records, organized events. For example, Dick Clark was inducted in 1993. He hosted a show and is listed in the “non-performer” category. There are influencers, such as Billie Holliday, a “sideman” category that is all men and includes Earl Palmer. Altogether there are 330 names listed of individuals and groups. It’s quite a list.
We associate the idea of a superpower with a superhero. Someone with extraordinary gifts that are used for the good of humanity. But there are superpowers attributed to not so helpful persons. These are often the antagonist of our superheroes. Outside of comic book characters, however, we usually reserve superpower status for countries who have global influence, generally as a result of the nation’s ability to exert power militarily, economically, technologically and culturally. But here we are talking about persons and perhaps groups of people, but not countries.
I suspect that most of us do not claim any particular superpower. More of us feel powerless than we feel powerful. We turn to people that we hope to have a superpower that can be used on our behalf. For a child, this may be a parent or guardian. The person feeding an infant is that child’s superhero for the moment since they have a superpower that the child cannot imagine having on their own.
So this suggests that superpowers are related to the circumstances. And what one person considers to be a superpower another person may think differently. Just because a friend feeding an infant gives them a temporary superpower doesn’t mean they still have this superpower after the bottle is empty.
Each one of us has a superpower. Some of us have claimed our superpower and others haven’t accepted their superpower. Your superpower is a gift. What is your superpower? Your story is your superpower. It’s that simple.
The Bible has a hall of fame list that is found in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. We see one of the most famous names, Abraham, with some of his stories. While a few biblical celebrities have a few words about why their name is listed, the writer ends the section by just listing several names.
What an honor. Can you imagine being named in the Bible’s list of superheroes? Of course, this would mean that you have been dead for centuries. But still — can’t you imagine how many people throughout history have wondered whether or not if they had lived during biblical times if their name might have appeared?
Given the timeframe of the writing of Hebrews, we don’t see any of the names from the time of Jesus ministries. They appear elsewhere. Hebrews is looking at the Old Testament scriptures. But more important than which names appear is how the writer of Hebrews chooses the names for this list?
Life is full of obstacles. And all of us respond to the challenges we face with varying degrees of heroism and disgustingly poor decisions. None of us are perfect and we face a system that is racist, oppressive, and full of bullies using their power to beat us up. Some of us are bullies. So how could a pastor make a claim that any of our stories is a superpower?
I do this because I realize that those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 also faced similar obstacles. Powerful nations led by violent leaders. Bullies who used their power against anyone who disagreed with them. They also faced self-doubt, heard voices in their heads that led them astray, and questioned God’s decisions. Perhaps the most common doubt was, “Why in the world would God choose me?”
Let’s consider how the writer of Hebrews begins chapter 11. “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” So we will have doubts like why me, I don’t deserve this, there are too many obstacles, no one would love me if they really knew me, and more. The question to be wrestled with is “Despite all of the obstacles do I believe that God will come through.”
It is by faith that we understand that the universe was created by God’s word, so that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.
Knowing that God will come through. This is faith. This is the heart of our story. This is our superpower. The biblical hall of fame is not a list of superheroes who could leap over buildings. The biblical hall of fame is a list of ordinary people who didn’t stop believing that God will deliver, even in the face of their own doubts. And God delivered. It is God who can leap over buildings, feed thousands with not enough food, walk on water and bring the dead back to life.
Our superpower is our story. When we tell our story we change lives for the good. When we share our hurts, our failures, and our doubts people find someone like them. When we can say that while we have our doubts, when we don’t see how, when we can’t reason why, but we know that God not only can, but will deliver, our story takes on superpower status. It is like Superman putting on his cape or Popeye chewing on his spinach. What emerges is a superpower.
Last week I asked you to write down 2 to 3 subjects that are on your heart. Things about you, parts of your story, that by telling them to someone they would find out something about you that makes you uncomfortable. I didn’t ask you to share them but to pray about your list. Now consider the requirement for being a superhero listed on God’s hall of fame. That is, the superpower of faith. God gives each of us this superpower as a gift. Now rethink your list of subjects in light of your superpower. Reflect on how your story of faith can shed light on your superpower of faith.
My prayer for you is that you will share your superpower with the world for good. It takes a superhero to be vulnerable enough to share our hurts and doubts, and to be faithful despite the apparent obstacles. We can see the obstacles. The way around or over them is usually not visible. But God already knows the outcome. God saw the obstacle coming. And God will deliver just as God delivered for our list of biblical hall of fame inductees.
Your story of faith is your superpower.
Use your superpower. Come join us. We worship each Sunday at 10:30 am. Come learn why it is important to tell your story and how to do so. I lead a short Bible study in the Asbury Café at 9:30 am. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.