There are many biblical things that we can see in the world around us. These things in culture were frequently pointed to by The Apostle Paul to give a message to people in his day and age in a relatable way to make it easier to understand. We can do that today. In the same way that we were able to explain the Gospel of Christ in The Gospel Explained for Geeks, we can also see characters from our favorite franchises that emulate qualities we should exhibit as Christians.
We receive the Spirit when we accept salvation through Christ. (Acts 2:38) As Jesus said in Matthew 7:16, you should be able to recognize Christians by their fruit. It is what separates us from the rest of the world and the most effective way for us to glorify God. Paul goes on in Galatians 5:22-23 to identify the fruits the Holy Spirit supernaturally imposes into us when we let Him. These aren’t traits we can exemplify on our own, we have to submit ourselves to His will for these traits to manifest fully in our behaviors. That’s not to say someone couldn’t exhibit any of these qualities on their own, or a combination of them, but for all of them to display in us, we need the Spirit’s help. We can also identify the Spirit in others when they depict these traits. We should constantly seek the Spirit’s help in mirroring these traits.
So what are some examples in our modern culture where we can see some of these traits being played out? As we explained in Symbiote Spider-Man: A Metaphor for Christian Living and Sin, the creators of these characters and their stories most likely did not intend to give a Christian message with their work, but as God created us all, we know these truths intrinsically; we just understand them more fully when we see them played out. So a lot of our work, whether we intend to or not, will most certainly reflect these truths.
These characters from various franchises do an excellent job of teaching us what we should look like when the Spirit is present in our lives and we submit our actions to His authority:
The head of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plays out his love for his “sons” many times throughout the Turtles’ lives. He has been assaulted verbally, physically, and mentally and come near the brink of death as he has come against the forces of evil to protect his sons. If ever they have needed him, he has been there for them.
But his love goes deeper than that. It extends to everyone and anyone willing to be at peace with him. The Ninja Master has harbored friend, acquaintance, and foe alike and come to their aid in their time of need. He won’t let someone suffer or hurt them unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
Our love should manifest similarly. We should not only be willing to do anything for those that love us, but we should love and pray for everyone. Splinter’s love, like Jesus’s, only on a much smaller scale, extends to those that love him, hate him, and are indifferent to him. As Christ came and died for those who persecuted Him, and prayed for them as He suffered, we should show love to everyone friend and foe alike. This isn’t an easy task. It can only be accomplished by God’s Spirit in us, through us. This love is evidence of His Spirit living in us though.
Luke 6:32 & 35 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”
The trademark Pokémon shows its (practically) perpetual smile in virtually every image of it you can find. (I use ‘it’ because there has been some debate as to which sex Ash’s Pikachu is, and that is the one we will discuss in this article.) That isn’t to say it doesn’t have troubles. In serving its trainer, though, it finds happiness in times of imminent peril. How it manages its predicaments is what gives its appeal.
Pikachu’s fleeting scowl is always quickly replaced by its cheerful smile as it is never far from Ash’s side. It draws on that relationship as its source of continual joy and satisfaction. Without its trainer, it is completely possible that its smile wouldn’t be present quite so often, but as Ash is always there with it, it knows it always has a source of joy.
When we are in communion with God, we also convey this undying joy. We will undoubtedly always have troubles during our time on earth, but as the Father is always near us and with us, we always have a source of happiness. He doesn’t expect us to not feel sorrow in this life, but He does want us to know that He is there to lean on in those times. (Psalm 34:17-20) We have a Savior that paid the ultimate price and suffered greatly so we don’t have to, for our mistakes. We always have a reason to exhibit joy!
Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Founder of the X-MEN and protector of mutant kind, Professor Charles Xavier has led every peaceful attempt to reconcile mutants with their oppressors. He has to openly combat the forces of his polar copy of leadership of their kind, Magneto, while trying to keep peace on the planet between the seemingly-rival races. Only when the lives of innocents are threatened, and thus his hand is forced, does Xavier resort to violence. He goes to great lengths to avoid unnecessary conflict from political meetings, trials of martyred teammates, even travelling through time.
All of his strivings point to his only goal: peace. As is ever-present in his character, speech, and mannerisms. All of the X-MEN and mutant kind know they can always turn to Xavier when they need a friend. This is largely due to his peaceful demeanor. In all of his times of turmoil, his dignified poise never wavers as he exemplifies his faith in his team.
We have Someone who is much more worthy of peace-instilling faith. He imparts this peace onto those that keep their trust in Him despite their circumstances. (Psalm 29:11) This is an important attribute of the Spirit that we exhibit. When the world is falling down around us and others see us confident that we are taken care of, it leaves an impression on them. Others that see this in us often desire this peace-giving experience they have seen in us and will turn to it in their times of trouble.
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Mario has come into numerous quarrels with his various nemeses. Bowser is always running off with Princess Peach, Wario always wants to deprive the kingdom of its gold, and all of their minions are always wrecking other countless havocs on the Mushroom Kingdom. These events constantly send Mario off into incredible risks to bring peace again to his friends’ homes.
Regardless of how many times the mustachioed plumber has been inconvenienced by these hooligans though, he always invites them to his friendly get-togethers. Every tournament from golf to tennis to baseball and every party he throws with his brother and Princess Peach. You can always find Bowser and his group of minions playing along.
Our situation will invariably be different from Mario’s here. We can’t invite a known terrorist or psychopath into our home to play games with our family. But we are told in Matthew 5:44 that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. When we display forbearance, we show those around us what Jesus showed on the cross when He prayed for those who were torturing Him. It is a strong quality indeed that, while terribly difficult to maintain, separates us greatly from the self-serving nature the world teaches us.
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – Gandalf (The Hobbit)
One of the reasons Gandalf is one of the most loved literary characters of all time is his characteristic kindness. He is powerful enough to destroy a Balrog on his own, yet he shows kindness to the good races of Middle Earth. With foresight he can tell what tragedies are set to befall the land, so he chooses to offer his wisdom and guidance to the Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits to help them prevent the enslaving and slaughter of their people, though it would have been much easier for him to ignore their plight.
Kindness is the key to a locked heart. When we show kindness to others, especially when they aren’t kind to us, we give them a reason to take notice of us. This is the reason Gandalf’s kindness draws us to him. In fact, it is the kind act of the Good Samaritan in Jesus’s parable in Luke 10:25-37 that marks him as the man’s neighbor. Jesus uses this parable to highlight how we should behave toward one another, so it is only natural that those in which the Spirit resides would emulate.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In the Marvel Universe, there are few others that so well embody goodness as Captain America. He’s trustworthy, valiant, moral, and selfless among other things. Everyone who has ever worked with him knows that if everyone else falls away, the one person that can invariably count on is Steve Rogers.
Many times throughout all of Cap’s adventures we can see him going out of his way to help someone in need. The risk of his life is never even a cause for hesitation when someone needs help of any kind. His shield represents more than some of us realize in this vain. A sword is primarily an offensive tool as is a gun or adamantium claws. But Cap chose a shield to signify his role as a defender of all things as a shields role is primarily for protection. He doesn’t seek out battle as he would first choose not to hurt anyone, but he doesn’t shy away from it when someone is in trouble.
The goodness imparted on us by the Holy Spirit is even greater than that of Captain America. We are a light to a dark world. (Matthew 5:14) Not only are we to provide for the world’s physical needs, we attend to its spiritual needs by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with it. The saving done by the work of the Holy Spirit is eternal and far more precious than anything we could offer on our own. That is why our hearts break for the lost and why we should go into all the world and preach the Gospel. (Mark 16:15)
James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
The journey from the Shire to Mordor was a challenging task for a young hobbit. Many times throughout his journey, Frodo found himself leaning on the undying loyalty of his good friend, and gardener, Samwise Gamgee. Sam made a promise to Gandalf that he wouldn’t leave Frodo on his journey to destroy the ring, and he kept that promise time and time again.
When Frodo got in his boat and tried to leave on his own, Sam chased him into the waters and nearly drowned. The faithful gardener trudged through treacherous swamps, over tall mountains, and into enemy territory with his friend. And when he was rewarded for his faithfulness by being banished by Frodo, he followed him anyway and ended up saving his life from a hungry spider and foul orcs in their own stronghold.
It means a lot to a person to be able to depend on someone. As Christians we should be among the first our friends and family call when their truck breaks down or they need help moving into a new home. Our faithfulness should be seen by our fellow man in us both being exhibited to our neighbors, but also to God. When others see us sacrificing things that we would like to do ourselves to help them or to uphold the virtues given to us in Scripture, they notice something different about us; they notice the Holy Spirit working in us.
Luke 12:42-43 “The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.’”
There are many incarnations of the Princess Zelda and each have had their unique personality traits. A common theme amongst the many variations of Hyrule’s Princess is her characteristic gentleness. She is divinely imparted wisdom, through the Triforce, to rule over her people, and among the attributes she is always granted is gentleness. Even when she rocks hardcore armor and battles evil alongside Link in Hyrule Warriors. Gentleness must be an important attribute if it is divinely selected to be bestowed on the kingdom’s ruler!
Of the most gentle of these incarnations is the Zelda from Skyward Sword. As the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom, the attributes given to her point to this divinity in her. Of the traits she has, her gentleness is the most recognizable that signifies the divine gift in her. This calm confidence that she carries stays with her through the entirety of the adventure that saves the future inhabitants of Hyrule. She never wears a begrudging demeanor as she bears her role in struggles.
It’s the soft confidence that provides evidence of the Spirit in us. We know the truths of life through God’s Word and wisdom imparted on us by His Spirit, so we are able to maintain that kind sureness. At first glance, gentleness can appear as weakness; as if we aren’t strong. On the contrary, gentleness is actually a sign of strength. It’s only out of fear and lack of faith in the future that someone needs to turn to harshness. When you have nothing to fear, as we shouldn’t as believers, you are able to have a gentle demeanor. How much then should temples of the Holy Spirit exhibit this quality?
Titus 3:1-2 “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always be gentle toward everyone.”
Superman has survived a supernova, held a black hole in his hand, and even towed an entire galaxy on his own. With power on that grand of a scale, it would be easy to become a tyrant or a world dictator. Yet despite all of his abilities and lack of mentionable opposing forces that could defend the world from him, he still maintains a daily life as a reporter for the Daily Planet. He’s married and has a normal suburban life like many other Americans.
These facts make Superman the epitome of self-control in the fictional realm. On any given moment he could use his powers to enslave the entire planet, instead he uses them to overcome odds that the humans of the world couldn’t overcome on their own to save them. This quality makes him among the most trusted superheroes in history. He has proven through many deeds that he will always work to help the people of earth. Though the temptation must always be present, Superman knows he can’t give in for a moment, lest the world suffer for it.
We know through Scripture that we will be tempted by sin as well. (James 1:14) But each sin we give in to drives us further from the Father, so as the Spirit dwells in us, He will help us practice self-control. As a result, when others see us turn down going to the strip club with them or telling the truth when it would be just as easy to lie our way through something, they see the evidence of the Spirit in us and God gets glorified by our actions. The rest of the world may not hesitate to jump on such possibilities, but when they see you practicing self-control, they will notice.
Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,”
Christians are called to let their light shine before men so our Father will receive glory. (Matthew 5:16) This is because the Spirit lives in us and makes these traits apparent in us to others. When we let Him work through us, it makes us a better friend, brother, and sister, and others take notice. It’s through His power that we stand out in this world. All we have to do is give our lives over to Him and let His will be done in us, which is both the easiest and hardest thing in the world to do. But when we succeed, our lives point to Something greater than ourselves, and our lights point others to His saving grace.
In these dark times, in this dark world, let’s be a light to those around us. Let’s give our lives to the One who created us and drives us to do good to our neighbors.
[If you are a church class teacher, you can download the PDF handout for this lesson by clicking the link below and printing off the PDF. I pray it blesses your ministry. If you enjoyed the lesson, please share it with your friends.]
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