I recently went to see the summer blockbuster movie, The Avengers with my son. As expected it lived up to the hype in terms of graphics, stunts, and even to some extent, a compelling storyline. These seemingly normal people are given extraordinary abilities as they become superstars and are enabled to save the world against extraterrestrial attack.
Let's face it, we like super-heroes. We like the idea of having people living among us who are endowed with the powers and compelled by a willingness to save us from our greatest danger. We have an innate insecurity that is skillfully quieted by our ability to pretend that we are ok. The stories of super-heroes relate to our insecurities and then lull us back to sleep by captivating our imaginations. It's smart business.
Now think with me about the church and her mission.
We are a group of people who want to press hard upon the insecurity of humanity in light of their biggest need. We want to show that apart from Christ all humanity is hungry and hurting. They are hungry because apart from Christ nothing will truly satisfy the hungry soul. They are hurting because they are continuing to suffer the fallout of fractured relationship with their Creator. This is expressed by guilt, shame, insecurity, depression and anger (to name a few). This translates into fractured relationships with others and is characterized by the same footprints.
The bottom-line is that the world and all of the people in it are truly broken apart from Christ. Furthermore, apart from Christ the greatest danger we will face is not invasion from a transcendent alien but from a transcendent God who will judge each man according to his work. The greatest enemy to the human being is human sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and it will come in terms of physical death and ultimately eternal death in hell, apart from Christ.
Once this wound of insecurity is reopened the church, unlike Hollywood, cannot lull us back to sleep with magic hammers or green giants. Instead it comes with the message of how weak people may find redemption and rest.
Think about it, the church is not made up of spiritual avengers. We are not mind-blowing, off-the-charts in awesomeness, and excelling in cool.
The Apostle Paul knew in his day of the potential to covet the "wow" factor. He reminds the Corinthians of their pedigree:
"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth." (1 Corinthians 1:26)
Far from being the ballyhooed group of superstars the church is made up of the unwise, weak people born into a bunch of no-name families from nowhere.
According to Scripture, God has done this intentionally. Why is this?
"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." (1 Corinthians 1:27)
God humbles the pride of the wise so he can alleviate boasting in self (humility) and bring about boasting in God (worship).
"so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:31)
The point of using weak people is to showcase the power of God. The gospel brings us low so that we can rest upon Christ. The gospel declares that the infinitely powerful God came into the world in the form of a weak baby. He lived in a perfectly holy life of obedience in submission to the Law of God. All of this He did for law-breaking rebels like me and you. Then He went to the cross to suffer the punishment and wrath due those same enemies. Finally, after winning our righteousness, acceptance, forgiveness and life, He rose victoriously from the grave for us!
If, after all of this, we are still thinking that we have something to offer God or something to boast in then Christ will not be boasted in, this Jesus will be of little value (Galatians 2:21). Instead, the right response is to come to Christ, trusting in His work and treasuring Him for His worth.
The church then, being made up of weak, unspectacular, and ordinary people, marches around the world proclaiming the message of how we may be delivered from our greatest enemy. Instead of flattering us the gospel flattens us, but only that we may rise and boast in Christ.