Everyone has heroes they look up to, who are yours? As a kid, my hero was Aquaman, because riding a shark is probably the coolest thing ever. As I got older though, my idea of heroism began to mature. True heroes were not people with super-abilities, but people who modeled the same qualities as Jesus Christ: Love, Grace, Justice, Courage, and much, much more. Many Christians have turned great spiritual mentors like John Piper and Billy Graham into the heroes of the Christian faith, but if I’m completely honest, I haven’t given up on Aquaman just yet.
E. Stephen Burnett of Christ & Pop Culture feels the same way. In a recent article, Burnett argued that fictional characters like Spider-man, Captain America, and even Harry Potter can serve as reflections for God’s Word. Their stories are echoes of the Gospel, reminding us that God is not limited to the “religious”. As an example, Burnett writes,
“To this day I can remember Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2’sfinal battle recalling the truth he had just learned and repeating it to a remorseful Dr. Octavius: ‘Sometimes to do what’s right, we need to be steady and give up the things we want the most — even our dreams.’ I can’t always say how, but that truth imaged by a fictional hero has aided my spiritual “revival” for years. I followed Spidey’s web all the way to the true story — God’s story — of the Hero who surrendered Himself to help people become the heroes they should be. To this day, I can credit the original Spider-Man films for helping save my marriage before it even began.”
Fiction has always been able to imitate the Gospel in surprising ways. It can portray God’s love through a devoted mother or father, remind us there is beauty in simple art, and even help us come to terms with suffering. For the latter, there is probably no better example than the tragic summer hit, The Fault in Our Stars. The story, which follows the budding romance of two cancer-stricken teenagers, has been praised by critics for its honesty and authentic emotions. Crosswalk’s own Christa Banister writes,
“If you haven't read the book, I'd suggest bringing tissues because the emotional grenade that's unleashed in The Fault in Our Stars will inevitably lead to tears. Still, as sad and heartbreaking as it all is, The Fault in Our Stars explores love, mortality and the meaning of life in such a memorable way. Easy, feel-good entertainment it's not, but in a summer full of that kind of thing, this is most definitely worth a look.”
God is a master storyteller, and His stories can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be easy for us, as Christians, to look at the obvious ways He reveals Himself in life. Church, theology, prayer; these are all noble and necessary ways to grow our faith. But sometimes, when you least expect it, God can use the simplest character, the most unlikely tale, to paint His glory on the world’s canvas. We are the children of the ultimate Creator.
And that is a very exciting thing to understand.
What about you? Are their books or movies where you have discovered God?
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com