July 4, 2013 by Pastor Ben McIntire
Happy 237th birthday, America! This Independence Day, we celebrate the birth of our great republic and our many civil and political freedoms. In honor of this day, and in the spirit of patriotism, I give you my favorite superhero: Captain America!
In the Captain America movie, there is a scene that captures the heart of what Captain America is all about. He’s not only about butt-kicking and smashing heads. He’s about protecting the vulnerable, caring for others, and standing up for what is right. In fact, he so values justice, peace, and life that he becomes a Christ-figure in the story more than once. In the following scene, Steve Rogers (Captain America’s real name), displays his true heart by his impulsive action. Check out this clip on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO6qu5fQLHo
When I saw this scene, I immediately thought of the story from 1 Samuel 16, when God sent the prophet Samuel to see Jesse of Bethlehem. Israel’s king, Saul, has worn out God’s favor so Samuel is called by God to anoint a new king. When Samuel sees Jesse’s sons, each seems kingly. 1 Samuel 16:6-8 says, “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In our culture of fashion, appearances, and identity crises based on marketing and advertising tactics that promote fear and insecurity, while degrading self-respect, this insight sounds so sweet. God doesn’t look at us the way others do. God doesn’t consider our wardrobes, make up, size or shape. God is not concerned with washboard abs, jewelry, or skinny jeans. God isn’t even impressed by the kind of cars we drive, the gadgets in our pockets, or the brand logos on our stuff. God looks at your heart.
And what does God find there, in your heart? Sometimes this may sound like good news to us, when we feel bad about ourselves and the way we look on the outside. Other times, we may feel good about our status in society because of our looks or reputation—and then God’s window into our heart and true self may make us feel guilty. The point is that a life of faith will make us content with God’s view. It will make us content with God’s view of us, since he loves us as we are and helps us to become better versions of ourselves. And we will also learn to take God’s view of others, not judging by appearances, but looking deeper in people and loving them as they are. If Christ loved us sinners enough to die for us and redeem us from lives of sin, then who are we to judge, hate or condemn anyone else, for whom Christ also died?
Finally, on this Independence Day, I want to leave you with one final thought from Captain America. In The Avengers, Cap speaks my favorite line in the whole movie. Enjoy!
Dear Heavenly Father, you indeed are the One true God. I thank you for my freedom in Christ, to live according to the law of love. Help me to see myself and others with your eyes, as your good creations whom you love and have sacrificed for. In Jesus’ name, Amen.