Note: This is a slightly modified version of a sermon delivered at the 2007 Presbyterian Collegiate Connection Council Retreat 2/9-11/07.

When I was a boy I desperately wanted superpowers. I remember sitting in a pew in our church in Tifton, GA and praying for them. I also fantasized that my alter ego, my secret identity, was Robin, Batman’s young apprentice, the “Boy Wonder.”

A child’s foolish fantasy? Certainly. But here I am 45 years later still talking about superpowers. Maybe I can still have my wish, though to heck with being somebody’s sidekick. I want to be Batman!

That boyhood longing said something important about my life at the time. I didn’t want superpowers so I could help people. I asked for them so I could kick some serious butt. I was tired of being nobody, being picked dead last for teams, being the nerdy smart kid that wasn’t popular. I wanted to be cool, noticed, somebody to be reckoned with.

I never was specific with God about what superpowers I wanted. But let me suggest that if we do engage a little in some fantasy about being a superhero, the sort of powers we want tell something about our identity and our struggles, our goals and our desires. Thinking about being a superhero is fundamentally a reflection on our identity, secret or otherwise. Maybe there is a dark side we want to express or some lack we want to correct. Maybe our heart is breaking over the state of the world, the plight of our neighbors, and we want to do something to help, to be bigger than just one person, to be somebody others will listen to seriously. We want to make a difference.

In a sense, I have gotten what I asked for. And so have you. No, I can’t take down criminals, then disappear into the night or strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. As far as I know, you can’t fly or shift your shape to ooze under a locked door. But God has given us superpowers. Or actually, super power. Dunamis uperekperissou: power far beyond.

This is a power so great, so comprehensive, so fulfilling that we haven’t conceived of it even in our wildest dreams. It pushes the envelope of our imaginations. It’s so fantastic, so far out, that we don’t know enough even to think about the fact that we haven’t thought about it. It makes flying without assistance at warp speed sound like reality and child’s play.

Nevertheless, the author of Ephesians (in chapter 3) prays for it. And he says God gives it to us.

Here it is:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine….

Did you catch it? Do you know what your and my superpower is, the dunamis uperekperissou? It’s the power to comprehend across time and space with every believer who has ever lived or will live, the power to comprehend, the understand, to grasp, to not let go of, every dimension of the love of God in Christ. How high, how wide, how long, how deep. The power, and this will stretch your mind for sure, the power to know love that is beyond knowledge: to know something you can’t know! How’s that for a superpower?

But there’s more! Knowing the knowledge you can’t possibly know, comprehending every dimension of the infinite God, enables you and me to be filled with the fullness of God! That just can’t be! Our finite muscles can’t possibly work the works of God like lifting up the hurting or picking up the downtrodden. Our limited vocabulary cannot possibly express the praise of the Ground of All Being. Our hands cannot possibly reach out and make a difference and do work that takes us beyond our comfort zone. Our minds and hearts cannot hold everything that God wants to share with us. We’ll explode, we’ll go crazy, we’ll die.

Still, that’s the claim. That’s our superpower that we share with every believer who ever was, is or will be: we are filled with the fullness of God, a reality beyond imagination, beyond knowing, yet we know such a Reality, we comprehend such a vision.

If we want to make a difference, that’s the superpower we need. That’s the one we have. Being a believer. It’s a whole lot better even than being Batman.

(c) 2007 by Tom Cheatham