This is my defense for my love of Superman. In the past, I’ve hidden it away. But with the release of Man of Steel, it started bubbling out. Lest everyone assume, as they are, that I just enjoy his massive shoulders and pretty face, here is my story of falling in love with Superman.
Meet me. A girl who grew up in a strong Christian family that has been in love with Jesus for as long as she can remember. My Mom sang Jesus Loves Me over me while I fell asleep at night and wonderful women and men in Sunday School faithfully brought out the flan-o-graph and showed me stories of God displaying His love – the pinnacle of which was the crucifixion account. For my whole childhood, I was presented images of Jesus, who I loved, showing His love for me by dying. But those images were in my children’s Bible and on a flan-o-graph. They were a story I heard. By the time I was a teenager, Jesus’ death was just something He did, it was his responsibility, like washing the dishes was my responsibility.
In 2004, The Passion of the Christ came out. My parents and older siblings watched it and told me of the impact it had on them. Suddenly, most of the Christians around me were talking about this movie and the horrible pain they watched Jesus go through. I started to grasp the immensity of what Jesus really went through on Golgotha. By this point in my life, I was still completely in love with Jesus, but was scared to see and understand the depths of His love, because I knew I didn’t deserve it. Not one bit. The broken, sinful me had been exposed, and I was trying desperately to hide it from my heavenly Father. You see, it wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair to Jesus for Him to love me so much that He would die for me when I couldn’t see any value in myself. Therefore, I zealously avoided watching The Passion.
Then, in June of 2007, my Mom brought home a movie called Superman Returns. For the first time, I saw Jesus. I found myself confronted with a Jesus who wasn’t just a drawing in my children’s Bible, but a real, living man – or Superman. This Jesus loved people. People who didn’t understand him, used him and often didn’t even like him. He rescued people who outright rejected him. He rescued people who wanted his defeat. This was a picture of love I’d never seen before. Sacrificial love.
As if I wasn’t wrecked enough, the climax of the movie came. Superman willingly chose to enter into a fight that would kill him, because of his love. I sat and watched as he endured beatings by weak, evil men and was stabbed in the side. Even after all that, love still compelled him to rescue. He went and gave up his life (symbolically) to rescue the world from a deep, hidden plague that threatened the life of everyone. He sacrificed, and world didn’t even realize what he had done for them. He took the hidden evil and completely removed it from them. Psalm 103:12, anyone? God reached down, pulled me into His arms and whispered His love for me –exactly as I am – through Superman. Superman took Jesus from an animated, robotic figure to a man in my mind.
When I found out they were making a new Superman movie, I was SO worried. Superman was someone who God showed his love to me through, and I did not trust Hollywood to continue that tradition. But my trusty Movieguide said it was worth watching, from a moral stand point, so I went anticipating my Daddy God showing up again and whispering His love for me.
Sitting in the theater, I saw many scenes that pointed towards Superman representing Jesus – Kal, son of El (a Hebrew word for God), a son sent to Earth by Father, etc. – but nothing spoke to me personally. Then, at the very end when Zod said, “My soul, that is what you have taken from me!” my spirit realize that this was going to be the moment. Zod, who is clearly the Satan character in the film, and Superman – aka Jesus – began to fight. God whispered to me, “Ready to see some love?” Was I ready?! YEAH! I was ready.
So I began to look for the love. In my mind, I was frantically trying to figure out what part of Jesus’ story this could represent. It definitely wasn’t the crucifixion. Then I realized that it was the very end, when Jesus throws Satan into the lake of fire. I’ve thought about that moment many times. I am convinced that all of God’s children will be there to watch it. We are the ones that Satan has spent most of his time attacking, because he hates that we have God’s love. There are many things in my life that are completely his fault. Times that he’s tried to steal, kill and destroy my destiny or the destiny of my family members. He’s never succeeded, by the grace of God, but he has caused damage. As Superman and Zod flew through the air, bashing one another, I began to get so excited. How much did my heavenly Father love me, that He was showing me a visual of what that day which i so anticipate will look like. I celebrated every time Superman beat on Zod. I was relishing the thought of his destruction. Look at how much my God loves me, that he brings justice and hurts those who hurt me. Then Zod and Superman crashed through the roof of a building, Superman grabbed Zod in a headlock, and I internally screamed, “KILL HIM!!”
But Superman didn’t. Love was supposed to be a picture of Jesus finally stopping all the damage Satan was doing. Right? God told me He was about to show me the love, and I had been reveling in it. Justice! But Superman wasn’t reveling. He held Zod there, and begged him to repent. He was heartbroken that Zod had chosen this. Zod had once been in the presence of his Dad. Even after all Zod had done, Kal El would have forgiven him if he had just repented.
But Zod refused. He chose to stick to his depraved actions. In fact, he tried to destroy more of Superman’s beloved before his very eyes. With all of his being, Clark had decided to love these humans, and he WOULD NOT let anyone hurt them. So he killed Zod. He delivered justice. My first reaction was, “YES!” The enemy had been destroyed! My knight in shining armor had rescued me from the villain. But that’s not how Kal responded. Kal was heartbroken. He didn’t want to kill anyone. He did what he had to do, and he knew it was right, but it broke his heart. (That yell!)
Then it hit me. The love wasn’t God destroying my enemy before me – although that is a picture of love I look forward to seeing. The love was God still giving Satan a chance to repent. Can you imagine that love?! It’s a love that is completely undignified and un-prideful. A love that doesn’t care about saving face or protecting a strong image. That’s someone who is so passionately in love that they don’t care if they look stupid for loving. God is capable of that great love. It’s the essence of who he is. (1 John 4:8) And he directs all that toward me. I am His beloved. He feels that way toward me every moment.
Please understand, I’m not making a theological statement with this. I’m not saying that Satan could be redeemed. I don’t know that. He was an angel, so that makes his relationship with God completely different than a human’s. What I am saying is God’s grace and love are big enough to do that. His grace is deep. He paid dearly for it, so it is NOT too small. It’s hard to wrestle with, but I have to believe that His grace is big enough to cover the sins of anyone. Anyone. That means that if Hitler had repented – real repentance – he would be saved. If anyone, no matter how atrocious their actions are, chooses to accept the gift of grace, they are saved.
If Superman can love enough that he wants Zod to be saved, then how much more can Jesus love you?? Woah. I thought the love God had shown me in Superman Returns was big. This was love like an ocean! This was love that I could literally never use up.
There are these grand gestures of love that people sometimes do, whether it be in life or a chick flick. When you receive one of those gestures, when you experience that magnificent expression of love from someone, you want to tell people. As a way to show that the love is mutual, you praise them and share how good at loving you they are. That’s what I’m doing here. This is my thank you note to God, I guess. He’s really good at loving me. He is the God who is Love, which means love is what He does. He knows, better than anyone, what makes you feel loved, and he does that for you. Grand gestures are kinda His thing. I believe every day He is making a gesture of love to me and you, the thing is, sometimes we don’t have the eyes to see it. He loves you like Superman loves. That’s a big love. Let’s start accepting it and soaking in it. Let’s choose to involve our emotions in the relationship.