Educator Geoffrey Canada describes his heartbreak as a child on learning that Superman wasn’t real. He was crushed not because his comic-book fantasies had been shattered but because, as a boy in a failing school in the Bronx, he suddenly realized that “there was no one out there with enough power to save us.”
He later became the president of the Harlem Children’s Zone which tried to increase high school and college graduation rates in Harlem. Geoffrey Canada’s story became a controversial movie: “Waiting For Superman,” about kids waiting for a good education that often does not show up.
Setting aside any debates about the movie, it’s a concept we can all understand. ”Waiting for Superman…” In the comic book heroes of our childhood, in the adventure novels and movies of our youth, in our passion over politics in our adulthood, we betray our inner longing for some superman, some hero, some perfect president or politician to come and save us. We sense that the world we live in is a broken down neighborhood. We spend our lives waiting for someone to show up and do something about it.
But we soon learn that the books and movies are only pretend. The professors and politicians can’t change the neighborhood. Our favorite heroes have feet of clay.
Nor should we be surprised. All of these “supermen” are saviors of our own design, crafted in our own image, no better than the folks who hired them.
We need a salvation designed by Someone higher than ourselves. We need a Savior who crafts us in His image, who comes from above us but steps into our broken down neighborhood with a wisdom we would never have imagined. We need what St. Paul called “the wisdom of the cross.”
We need to repent for wanting to be too much a part of the neighborhood, all the while waiting for the wrong kind of hero to show up and save us. We need not wait for some superman to come and save us. Christ has already done that. The wisdom of the cross which seems so weak and foolish to the world is the very way out of the neighborhood of this world to the city of God. We need Him who became one of us to do for us what we could not do, to die for us that we might not die, to rise in triumph over death and the grave.
Others in our neighborhood need to hear this. We need no feeble worldly wisdom to prop up this wisdom which the Holy Spirit reveals in the Scriptures to show us the heart of God. Said the young man to the old preacher years ago: “Good sir, how can I defend the Bible?” The old man roared back: “Defend the Bible?! How would you defend a lion? Let it out of its cage and it will defend itself!”