If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Super strength, super speed, flying – anything. What would you choose? If you’re a normal person like me, clearly you’ve asked yourself this question before, and have pondered it for quite some time. Any reasonable human would do so. In fact, many arguments and broken friendships have resulted from debating this important issue. Seriously, if you can’t agree on a superpower, then your friendship is meaningless anyways.
Now obviously, I’m being sarcastic…slightly.
But what if there was a superpower that we could possess – something that would have the whole world in awe and bewilderment? And what if this same superpower was also its own…kryptonite? Let me explain:
Perhaps you’ve heard of Philippians 4:13. It may even be your favorite Bible verse.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Without doubt, this is a pretty amazing sentence, and certainly one worth remembering. Many have even read this verse as a bestowment of supernatural feats – a blank check for superpowers you could say. After all, everything means everything, right?
Now let me be clear: I in no way aim to limit what God can do. I do believe that anything is possible for Him (that is according to His character). And I do believe that this verse speaks to a superpower that we can obtain. However, I also believe that Paul’s intent for this verse is different than how we typically interpret it. Let’s look at the context:
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13
With context, we can reasonably imply that this verse is speaking specifically to contentment. Christ gives us the strength to be content in any situation, no matter what. Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction, and this is available to us at all times! Do we realize how remarkable this is? In a world that tells us to always long for more, to continue reaching and striving for greater happiness, we don’t have to. Our strength, happiness, and satisfaction can be found in Christ. Nothing that life throws at us can take this away.
Now obviously, things won’t always be perfect. There will be times that we will feel hurt and pain, but that’s why this verse is so powerful – not because it allows us to defeat difficulty, but because it empowers us to be satisfied during it…and this is certainly a superpower. Contentment during hardship is unnatural, in fact it’s supernatural. As Christians, we need to show this to the world! It is a testament to how great our God is! His death and resurrection provides us with a greater hope – one that is far beyond what this world has to offer. We can be content, because God has made this hope a reality.
So if contentment is our superpower, how can it also be our kryptonite? The distinction, I think, lies in the subject. And here’s the key:
We should be content in our circumstances, but not our sin.
See, contentment often breeds complacency in our relationship with God and others. Quite simply, it diminishes the severity of sin, and this is a major problem. Yes, we are saved from our sin by the blood of Christ and seen as perfectly blameless in God’s eyes – but a genuine belief in this should produce a longing for more good works rather than a self-satisfied idleness. Being lukewarm in our faith will have us cast out from the mouth of Jesus himself (Rev. 3:16)!
But quite honestly, I catch myself growing indifferent fairly often. I think that I’m already good enough. My sins are no worse than anyone else. After all, God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, right?
Certainly, God knows that we can’t be perfect in this life…but he does demand that we strive to be like Jesus, who was perfect (Rom. 8:29). See, God desires people that are on fire for Him. He wants people actively pursuing a personal relationship with Christ. If we stoppursuing, and if we stop growing, then maybe something is wrong with our picture of God. Doesn’t this show that we view Him as lessworthy and less good, and view ourselves as more worthy and more good? In other words, why would we try to be like Jesus if we’re good enough being ourselves? Perhaps myself and others need to be reminded more often that it’s our sin that put the Creator of this universe on a cross to die, which he did willingly and lovingly.
And that’s what it’s really all about.
It’s only when we fully grasp the image of the cross that we can rise from complacency to passion, and transform trials into contentment.
It’s only the cross that gives us the source for our superpower, and the cure for our kryptonite.
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” – 1 Timothy 6:6
You won’t want to be like Jesus if you’re good enough being yourself.