Whether during an interview, at an icebreaker / mixer of some kind, or just an awkward date, have you ever been asked, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?”1
Sure, it would be great to have all of the gadgets of Batman, have the ability to shoot energy beams out of our eyes like Superman, or to never be late when we could run as fast as the Flash. (Marvel fans, just pretend that I said Iron Man, Cyclops, and Quicksilver.)
In reality, though, our lives probably seem pretty non-superhero. We can’t reach something on the top shelf because our arms aren’t super-stretchy. There are things too heavy for us to lift by ourselves. We get hurt because our skin isn’t impenetrable. As we get older, we don’t heal up as quickly as fictional mutants2. We run out of money sometimes, and most of us can’t call a butler to get us out of a jam.
However, the Bible talks about an actual kind of super-power, and actually indicates that every single Christian is imparted with one. These supernatural powers give us the ability to go above and beyond our human limitations, and to uniquely do good for others.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NLT
What might this look like? I don’t want to constrain how God chooses to use you, but here are some ideas:
- You may be able to offer a fellow citizen unique knowledge required to solve a problem – one that he or she couldn’t fix independently.
- You may be gifted with the ability to know what will happen in the future (or, as my wife says it, “the fuuutuuuurrrre….”).
- You might have the important ability to determine whether someone’s claims are actually truth from God, or a lie from Satan.
- You may even be one of those chosen to impart God’s healing to others. Although western societies often miss this (and, there’s nothing wrong with receiving healing through medicine or doctors, each enabled by God), I believe that miraculous healing still takes place in our world, today.
To receive these abilities, we don’t have to spill chemicals on ourselves3, nor do we need to be rich or popular. These are literally gifts, provided by God in His own perfect discretion.
However, just having an “origin story” (in this case, becoming a Christian and receiving God’s gift) doesn’t make us superheroes. To actually be heroic, we must use this potential for good – and for God.
The first step (well, really the second step, since the first step is to sign up to be on God’s side, and to start following Jesus) is understanding what God has given us. Of course, the simplest way to do this is to ask Him.
If He chooses to answer you through other means, there are plenty of surveys to help you learn which of the “spiritual gifts” (as some have taken to calling them) listed in the Bible seem to be your own. However, studying what the Bible has to say about these gifts (both in passages like the one shown above, and by reading about others with similar gifts) can be equally valuable. I also encourage you to talk with trusted pastors or other mature Christians, to learn what they see in you.
Once you understand how God has equipped you (whether or not this fits one of the lists that are often cited in the Bible), study what He has to say about this gift. Observe how others use this ability effectively (whether in the Bible, elsewhere in history, or just around you). Then, try it out. Ask God to lead you to opportunities to exercise this power (which is really His power, all along). Once you have learned to listen to Him (hearing from Him when He wants you to step up and take action), you can grow more bold and confident in being a part of His plan. When done correctly, this glorifies Him in the process.
So, the next time you hear about a fictional hero, remember that you also have extraordinary abilities, and can be a hero yourself – in Jesus’ name – today. You might not get your own comic book, but your story will still be an adventure worth retelling, someday.4
- If you’re wondering, my preferred superpower would be the ability to not say something stupid in any of those situations listed above. I’m thankful that my wife has grown more tolerant of my humor over the years, so at least being goofy on a date isn’t as big of a problem as it used to be! ↩
- Babies do get pretty close to having regenerative healing powers, though. When one of my sons accidentally scratched his face because I didn’t get his nails trimmed, his tiny rapidly-growing body repaired itself remarkably quickly – within a few hours, as I recall. ↩
- We also don’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider be injected with super-serum. I haven’t forgotten about you, Marvel fans. ↩
- For what it’s worth, the picture accompanying this article was of a little creature that had gotten a piece of string caught around its leg. We removed the tangle and let the animal go again. You might not have the superpower of being able to regenerate a tail (or perhaps a limb) like this guy, but you could have the ability to help someone else get free from junk that has ensnared them – whatever is keeping them from achieving their own purpose for God. ↩