Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
Does Spiderman need an introduction? Of course not! He’s Spiderman! He’s so engrained in our culture’s psyche, the Web-head’s 50+ years of relevance testifies to his timelessness. Even his countless re-imaginings receive near equal love and attention—a rare thing among rebooted characters. Still, regardless if you prefer Maguire, Garfield, or Holland portraying the Webslinger, or heck, even if Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, or Spiderman-Noir is your favorite version, they all mirror hallmarks of classic Peter Parker. Shortsightedness cost him a loved one. He protects everyone, despite wrongful slander. His vigilantism doubles his troubles, and his iconic motto, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility,’ echoes the eternal wisdom of Proverbs 3:27. He’s a symbol of growth, proactive action, and moral self-sacrifice. Still, all things considered, those traits are parr for the course for most superheroes. So what makes Spiderman such a huge favorite? Even since I was a small kid, he’s certainly always been mine.
Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but Spiderman hasn’t held his top-spot title for me just because his powers are cool (which they are). Nor is it because he’s incredibly relatable (which he is). It’s because…he was a kid like me. I know that doesn’t sound groundbreaking. Many fans say they love him for the exact same thing. However, I think my reasons differ from most. You see, I’m a certified superhero nut. (You’ve probably noticed it if you’ve read my book, Celestial.) Dauntless heroism just inspires and thrills me every bit now as it did in my tender years, yet Spiderman continues to swing above my other beloved Marvel heroes not merely because his youthfulness allowed me to self-project. I saw in his character a counterargument to how the world saw me and a reflection of all God said I could be and wanted to be.
We as a society simultaneously over-expect and under-expect from our youths. Education smarts are pushed. Life smarts (i.e. common sense and basic competence) are neglected. Centuries ago, fourteen-year-olds married, carried jobs, and ran homesteads. Nowadays, many American teens couldn’t cook an egg. Problem is modern society bought the ‘scientific’ idea that a respectful, capable youth is a physical impossibility. Teens are labeled too underdeveloped. Thus, proper discipline is called abusive, and kids must freely ‘find themselves’ as they grow. However, what it really says is, “Parents, train your children less. Be their buddy more,” and, “Teens, adulthood is drudgery. Don’t let anyone rob your fun while you have it.” It’s all a crippling lie wrapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The image we projected is the image we got. Continually treat someone like they’re too young to bother with worthwhile things, and…well…what goes in the oven is what’s eventually gonna come out. Instead of a generation of spidermen, we’re awash in venoms—selfish, impulsive ‘kid’-dults. It’s certainly not the kind of youths God intended and has raised up time and again.
But what would it mean to be a Spiderman? Peter Parker is a sixteen-year-old suddenly given powers then slammed by choices that’d debilitate most grownups. He makes grave mistakes, of course. He is an inexperienced kid after all, but the fact Peter's victories always come after he humbles himself and learns from his mistakes and his authority figures makes all the difference. Young King David was no different. David put down lions and bears as a boy. Then he contended with giants, armies, kings, deserts, and slander—all before he was thirty! Still, even as a teen, God already called David a man after His own heart. Why? Simply this: humility. David humbled himself before God. Thus, God transformed him into a youth mighty in deed and character. To put it another way, God turned him into a genuine Spiderman. God did the same in an eight-year-old Josiah. He did the same in a seventeen-year-old Joseph. He most definitely can do the same in me and anyone of any age.
What or who we admire affects how we act. God rightly aught to be chiefest of our affections, yet it’s amazing how He still uses the insignificant ‘whatevers’ that excite us to shape and challenge our direction. Growing up, I wanted to be Spiderman. I wanted to do what’s right no matter how impossible. I wanted to make a major difference in others’ lives and not wait till society told me I’m old enough to do so. Now that I’m a grown Christian, I realize the Lord granted me that wish ever-since He humbled me. My DNA wasn’t transmuted, but Jesus transfigured my heart. I can’t crawl up buildings, but with God I scale mountains. I have no spider-sense, but His Spirit gave me spiritual sense. Like Spiderman, this renewed life I live comes with accusations, battles, and loneliness. Yet God constantly crosses my path with others like me and makes every price I’ve paid for Him worth it. God equipped me with truth, charged me to fight for it, and says to me, I’m never to young (or old) to live boldly, speak wisely, or do hard things for His namesake. Will I fail sometimes? Absolutely. I already have…spectacularly...but so long as I remain humble to learn, I'm the Lord’s Spiderman. His young, flawed, but willing Spiderman.
I never thought I'd be able to do any of this stuff,...but I can. Anyone can wear the mask. You could wear the mask. If you didn't know that before, I hope you do now. 'Cause I'm Spiderman. And I'm not the only one...not by a long-shot. - Miles Morales (Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse 2018)
1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
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