Summary: This fun sermon series uses comic-book heroes as modern-day parables, uncovering hidden spiritual messages in the stories of superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-man. Most of these sermons are expository, alliterated and have PowerPoint!
Holy Heroes: Captain America
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 11/10/2013
Good morning and welcome to Blooming Grove. If you are visiting with us today, I hope you feel right at home—like a part of the family. These past several weeks I’ve been preaching about superheroes—using the stories of these fictional comic-book characters as modern-day parables that illustrate spiritual lessons.
Last Sunday we saw how Iron-Man’s hi-tech armor parallels and points toward the Full Armor of God. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit empower us to stand against the onslaught of Satan. There is one piece of armor issued to Christians, however, that Iron-Man doesn’t brandish—a shield.
The Bible says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 NLT).
While Iron-Man may not wield a shield, there is another iconic superhero who does—Captain America! Created in 1940 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Captain America was Marvel Comics’ (the Timely Comics) first superhero. Stan Lee calls Captain America “the very definition of a superhero.” Chris Evans, the actor who plays Captain America in the movies has said, “He’s everything I wish I could be as a man… he’s just good for the sake of good.” It’s for that reason that I have grown to love Captain America.
Most recently I masked myself as Captain America for the Route 66 Mother Road Festival held in Springfield, Illinois where my wife, son, and I interacted with families at a booth for the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois. Their mission is to protect children from abusive situations and showcasing some superheroes helped symbolize that. I’ll never forget my first time dressing as Captain America, though. We were, once again, in Metropolis on a sweltering and sunny afternoon in June of 2009, when a little boy—no more than four years old—appeared out of nowhere, wrapped his arms tightly around my legs and whispered, “I love you Captain America.” My heart melted and I knew instantly that I would be doing this costuming thing for years to come.
The story of Captain America is really the story of Steve Rogers, a skinny kid from Brooklyn. Despite his scrawny and sickly physic, Steve volunteered for a top-secret military experiment called Operation: Rebirth. Chosen because of his altruistic and patriotic heart, Steve was injected with a special serum and bombarded with “Vita-Rays” which transformed him from a frail young man to the peak of human perfection—the super-soldier, Captain America! Imbued with enhanced strength, speed, and agility, Captain America became the Sentinel of Liberty as he defended freedom against the Nazis. Then, after being lost in the Arctic and frozen in ice for decades, he was found and thawed out by the Avengers and continues to fight by their sides as a man out of time.
Captain America’s only weapon is a special shield made from an indestructible alloy capable of absorbing kinetic energy. There is a fun scene in Marvel’s Avengers that demonstrates just how impervious Captain America’s shield is, when Cap has to break up a misunderstanding between two much more powerful heroes, Thor and Iron-Man.
PLAY Avenger’s Movie Clip
Just as Captain America’s shield is impervious to even Thor’s hammer or Hulk’s fists for that matter, the shield of faith makes us impervious to Satan’s spiritual assaults. Not all shields are indestructible, though, and not everyone’s faith is either. So the question is how do we construct a shield of faith that can withstand any assault? There is a passage of Scripture in the book of Hebrews that touches on that question. The Bible says, “You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him” (Hebrews 11:6 TLB).
In the comics, Captain America’s shield is made of an alloy composed of three metals. The first is vibranuim, a rare vibration-absorbing metal found only in the jungles of Wakanda. Second is adamantium, the same indestructible metal that Wolverine’s claws and bones are coated in. Finally, in the story Fear Itself, Asgardian blacksmiths added some of the mystical metal Uru to the shield, the same stuff from which Thor’s magical hammer was forged. These three metals combine to make Captain America’s shield utterly unique and totally indestructible. Similarly, the above passage alludes to three elements of faith that, when combined, become an indestructible shield for believers. The first element of faith is simply believing that God is real!
• GOD IS REAL
Becoming absolutely convinced that God is real is the first element in our shield of faith. “Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT). There are several good reasons to believe that God is real—the fine-tuning of the universe, the applicability of mathematics, the reality of good and evil, the historicity of the life of Jesus, and your own personal experience to name a few. But the author of Hebrews touches one particularly good reason to believe in God when he writes, “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen” (Hebrews 11:3 NLT).