Many Christians have as many ongoing issues and hangups as non-Christians. Why is that? Why are so many of us still struggling as captives or oppressed prisoners? How are we captives set free? ◊
I spoke with a fairly mature Christian recently who was struggling with a recurring bout of insecurity over friends and relationships. He made a comment after our discussion that struck me as rather odd for one so mature in faith. He said that he needed to “be more in the Word (read the Bible) and deeper in study.”
I challenged him on his comment simply asking “What do you really mean by that?”
He startled a bit and then said, “Well, what I mean is that I really should be in Bible Study more.” I kept pressing and asked, “And what would that do relative to this situation with your interpersonal relationships?” He replied, “It draws me closer to God and changes my perspective. Yet I still struggle at times.”
This little exchange prompted me to think about the common reality all around us in this new era of Christian living in a wildly secularized culture. I’m seeing a lot of Christians have as many ongoing issues and hangups as non-Christians. Why is there the assumption that we Christians are immune to struggles, temptations, and problems? Are we that special?
Of course not.
But it is legitimate to ask why many Christians stay struggling as captives or like oppressed prisoners of their own sins, fears, insecurities, distorted perspectives, and problems. What’s that all about? How are we captives set free?
In fact, can we really be released and set free? Yes, we can. And the answer is tangible.
Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Superheroes
First, a comment about superheroes. My generation grew up with old-school superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Mighty Mouse, even Under Dog. The superhero recipe then is the same today for the smorgasbord of modern superhero characters: a normal mild mannered man or woman (or cartoon animal) is transformed into a superhero with special strengths and powers to confront a dark and evil foe. The hero saves the day and the good guys win every time.
With this notion of superheroes, here’s the logic flow of what I told my struggling Christian friend:
- We Have the Holy Spirit – Jesus left us with a powerful helper, an advocate, the Holy Spirit. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:26. This is a promise of Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit has Power – The power of the Holy Spirit is supernatural. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. (Acts 2:43) Jesus’ kingdom “was not of this world” – John 18:36. He and this Power is otherworldly.
- We Possess the Power of the Holy Spirit – This supernatural power is available to all who receive Christ. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8. Additionally, And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. – Romans 8:11. We are gifted and in possession of a power we can scarcely comprehend.
- We Can Defeat Anything in this World – This Holy Spirit within us is a helper and a weapon. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:10-12.
- We are “More than Conquerors” – I cited Romans 8:37. We are empowered and we are not alone. If God is for us, who can be against us?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:31, 37. We are Superheroes, winners; even overwhelmingly victorious.
In truth then, we as Christians are Superheroes with supernatural powers provided by the God over all things created in a world. We are His force for good, for His Church, for His purposes. We are under the authority of Jesus Christ and through the power of God’s Holy Spirit we too can operate in fullness of that power.
The problem for us all, and the world, is that we Christians are wandering around with a type of governor on, like a power-controlling device set to restrict full strength or top speed. We are like Superheroes walking around unaware of the power within to confront and combat all that is opposed to what is good, right, holy, and even inspired by God.
Jesus cited Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue at Nazareth early in His ministry (Luke 4:17-19) identifying Himself as the One who sets the oppressed prisoners free. As Isaiah prophesied before, Jesus is is the fulfillment of this prophesy literally and spiritually in the releasing of captive Man in victory over our woes. We too, as Jews and Gentiles then and today, have been set free to operate in the full power of the Holy Spirit of God.
As I told my friend, let us let go of the weighted bindings and fetters that shackle us in this world emotionally and psychologically and tap into that power via prayer, faith, and yes, study of the Scriptures. May we break free with the power we have been blessed to receive so we can operate in full love, joy, peace, and power in this world that so needs us as Superheroes.
Have you been set free and operate as a Superhero?
Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4: 17-19