Great Power, Great Responsibility
In 1962, in “Amazing Fantasy” #15, Stan Lee scribes words that will be associated with heroes for the rest of time; ”WITH GREAT POWER THERE MUST ALSO COME - - GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!”, later it was whittled down to; “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”
You can trace the concept back a little further to Jesus in Luke 12:48: "from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." When we “give our lives to Jesus,” so often we think that’s just a statement, but literally following Christ means we give Him control of our life. If he has control, that means we follow His purpose, and that in fact comes with great responsibility. We already established in the powers section that Christ gives us great power, so here comes the great responsibility; “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20.
Jesus gives us the power and responsibility to take His message into the world. Sometimes we get the wrong idea of this though. We thing Jesus said, go pass out tracts in the mall, or leave your waitress a crappy tip with a Bible verse. Jesus told us to make disciples, just like He did. He told us to baptize them, because when they become disciples their lives will be changed. That once their lives have been changed with teach them what it means to follow Jesus. Sometimes though, we really miss the boat. Have you ever seen a super hero just really not take full advantage of their power? Like they were just missing the mark on what they should be doing?
One of the most haunting stories I ever read in comics is from “Justice” by Alex Ross. For reasons you’ll have to read, all of earths super villains start doing good. Poison ivy causes crops to grow where people are starving, Captain Cold puts a glacier in a desert and lets it melt so people have clean drinking water, Braniac heals the disabled and so on. You literally sit back and watch as the most evil beings on earth are doing great works, and you think “...wait....why haven’t the heroes ever done anything like this?” Further, why do the heroes just wait around to stop bad guys, why not do more? Billy Batson could call enough electricity to run whole states electrical systems, Martian Manhunter could help people with mental disorders, Superman could safely drill enough oil or gas to save our economy, Scarlet Witch could literally wipe out all the worlds diseases at once, there’s just so much potential. This changed the way I looked at super heroes. They could do so much more than just wait for trouble.
This is the same place we are in. Jesus gave us this great responsibility, but unless someone walks up and says they want to get saved, we rarely share the message Christ gave us. We are no better than heroes who waste their abilities, in fact we are worse. The apostle Paul shows us what it looks like when we take Jesus’ command seriously.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.
Paul did literally whatever it took to follow Jesus command. When’s the last time you really made a serious effort?
We also can get into the mindset of, “It’s someone else’s responsibility,” or “They don’t really need me to get involved, there are more qualified people to share Jesus. We have pastors, missionaries, teachers, worship leaders, etc.” It’s like if there’s a giant meteor crashing to earth, and we are Aquaman. There has to be hundreds of heroes better equipped to deal with this situation. That doesn’t mean we just stand by while lives are at risk. That’s the scary factor; lives are in fact at risk. “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” – Romans 10:13-14
We all have a part to play. In the story of Spiderman, his Uncle Ben dies because Spiderman had the opportunity to stop a criminal and didn’t. He had the chance to do what He knew he should have and because he didn’t, a life was lost. We, right now, are standing in that moment. Are we going to accept the responsibility Christ gave us, or we just going to stand here as lives slip away. Excelsior!