Stan Lee passed away in mid November at age 95.
Who’s Stan Lee? Okay, you’re not a comic book fan if you ask that question.
Stan, the man, Lee was the guy behind Marvel comics and it’s myriad heroes and characters of the MCU, (the Marvel Comic Universe). From the Incredible Hulk to Thor, Captain America, to Iron-man, the Avengers, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee was creator or had a hand in creating them all. And in recent years, you couldn’t see a Marvel movie without Stan popping up in a cameo — like a whimsical Alfred Hitchcock.
Arguably his best known creation was Spider-man — a mild-mannered (I think the term mild-mannered was invented for superhero alter egos, think of Peter Parker, Clark Kent) teenager named Peter Parker who when bitten by a radioactive spider gained the powers and strength of a spider. Peter Parker brought teen angst into the comic books and was an icon from the 1960’s on. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962 and the theme of his story then and to this day remains “with great power comes great responsibility”.
There’s a lot of truth to that theme and even a biblical basis — something like “From those who have received much, much is expected” depending on your version, in Luke 12:48.
It makes sense too. If you have blessings, gifts, opportunities, power, talent then it isn’t meant just for you. It is meant to benefit others. And again biblically, we see that theme over and over again. Think of Jesus’ words, “do to others as you want them do to you” and “love your neighbour as yourself”. And in the Old Testament, we see Micah, Isaiah and others telling God’s people not to overlook doing justice and caring for those in need.
Really nothing has changed has it for us in our modern millennial world. We are called to live and serve not just for ourselves if we follow Jesus. Biblically speaking there isn’t even a question here. With our great power or blessings comes great responsibility.
And as with Peter Parker way back in 1962, lives hang in the balance. People die when we operate selfishly. For your friendly neighbourhood Spider-man, it was his Uncle Ben who died at the hands of a criminal. The man who had raised him was killed and that’s when he realized his responsibility to use his radioactive spider powers (spidey sense, wall crawling, webswinging and super strength, that’s the best eh?) for others. The responsibility was his.
We, as Jesus’ followers have great blessing and even talents and spiritual gifts. We should understand that those are not just for us. Stan Lee got it! And so how does that play out in our daily lives?
In our everyday walking around, casual, catch the bus, eat a donut, go to work or school lives how does that play out?
In our ‘ministry’ lives how does that play out? When we interact or minister to children, youth, seniors, adults, families, small groups or congregations how’s it work? Do we see the responsibility and take it seriously? With great power…
And here’s another thought, you bring something to ministry that no one else does. God made you unique with gifts, personality and experiences that shape who He has made you to be. If you’re involved in ministry of a formal kind or just as a friend or in a less formal approach you likely know what I mean. You bring something to ministry and you know it! That’s your great power. It’s from God and in its uniqueness its your superpower even if it doesn’t include spider sense.
btw taking something seriously doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Some of my most fun has been in ministry with adults and youth and my church family. They are awesome! I love being with them. We eat, we laugh, we serve, we worship, we learn together and we do it all in Christ.
But sometimes it can be hard. Responsibility is a heavy word and that’s real too. We cry and struggle and deal with angry, hurt, abused and marginalized people. We have to take persecution at times and we have to stand up under pressure. We lose loved ones and can’ t answer why. All we can do is cling to Jesus and trust even when it’s hard.
I can’t tell someone why their prayers weren’t answered. Lives hang in the balance. And it’s not a comic book.
With great power comes great responsibility. Yeah, it feels that way some days. It really does.
But that’s the gig. Jesus never said it would be easy. He said if the world hated Him it would hate us. He dealt with a broken world and then left it in our care. But He didn’t leave us alone. We get to be connected with Him even as we make disciples, share Jesus’ love and caring for those in need.
So take that great power and embrace those responsibilities! Be that servant/hero, no flashy costume required. Excelsior!
COMING SOON: PART 2 – WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY COMES GREAT POWER