Continuing my three-day personal apologetic, I have moved from Batman to Aquaman and now am ready to become more like Marvel's Thunderbolts. Well, some of them anyway.
Two days ago I mentioned what a louse I am if I am painfully honest about it.
Yesterday I mentioned that I was lucky that it's not own goodness that has to count in my favor and how because of that, I still don't have the right to walk around as if I really had it together after all.
But what's next? How does knowing I'm a worm made into a prince by the work of another affect my person, my character, my actions? Or does it?
That's where the Thunderbolts come in. You see, for the non-comics fans, the Thunderbolts were a team that pretended to be heroes in order to do evil. But over time, some of them became changed by the actuality of being heroes. They were still villains, but they found themselves wanting to be real heroes and not just pretend heroes, and they lived that way. Eventually, the ones who truly changed got just that opportunity (one of whom was actually invited to join the Avengers).
But enough geek talk. What does that mean for this discussion?
Even if the old me is still a worm, the new me is being made into something, well, new and better. In my heart I may still be a villain, but in my soul, I'm being made into a hero.
Or to defer to the Apostle Paul: "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6, NASB).
So I do my best to try to live a life worthy of being a hero, the kind of life that may one day get me invited to be an Avenger. But I don't do it to impress people. I don't do it to demonstrate how pure and holy I am (because I'm not, remember Day 1). Nor do I do it to build a barrier between myself and the unwashed masses (because I know that I'm not just one of them, I'm the president of the unwashed masses and have the biggest stick in my eye alone).
I do it because (and just because) I'm being made into a new person, because my character is being changed, because I want to honor the One whose goodness (i.e., righteousness, holiness) is working on my behalf.
I do it because of who I am becoming, not who I am. I do it because I know the person I am and am becoming, and not because I'm trying to prove anything to anyone. The only One who needs proof already knows.
And what am I becoming? Well, if you run in many church circles, you'll hear a long list of dos and don'ts about various cultural moral things like not smoking, not drinking, not cursing, etc.
I prefer to think that Christ is doing something different within me than just making me a good boy for my grandmother. I prefer to think that he's doing something to me that I can't do on my own. And I believe scripture backs this up.
Again, going to Paul: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5: 22-23, NASB).
I think that even more than doing the right "things" (daily devotional reading, praying every day, tithing, etc.) being the right person is the core of what it means to be "being perfected." I can do all the good things and still fake it, having no joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control toward other people. But I will find it very difficult to fake a live of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People see that that quickly. And if I get these things right, you can't hold a "law" of drinking, smoking, or cursing against me.
I'm becoming like Christ in His time in His way. You're becoming like Christ in His time in His way for you. And we may be on different timetables.
Do I still have to fight the temptation to live like a pretender? Yes. Do I still have to fight the urges to ignore being patient, joyful, etc.?
But the more I live like an Avenger, the more I become less like a Thunderbolt and more like an Avenger.