Thursday, August 25, 2022

When Gods Get Smashed

Suggested Reading:  Romans 12:1-5

Continuing on the Avengers train of thought from yesterday, one of the funniest scenes of the movie came near the climax. The Avengers were battling the evil army from space and Hulk had been smashing everything in sight. Somehow Hulk caught sight of Loki and followed him to Stark Tower where Loki was taking refuge. As Hulk approached Loki, Loki yelled, "Enough! I am a god and I will not be bullied by--" About that time, Hulk grabbed Loki by the feet and smashed him back and forth into the ground several times, leaving Loki with a dazed expression and, seemingly, scared out of his mind. When  the scene finished, my son leaned over to me and said something to the effect of, "That's what Loki gets for saying he was God."

This one moment, however, was not Loki's only expression of superiority. Multiple times throughout the movie, Loki demonstrated how much better he believed himself to be than everyone around him. He felt he could treat other people  however he wanted, at one point comparing the people of Earth to ants and himself to a boot.

Like Loki, though, one of the great human temptations is to believe ourselves to be better than the people around us. We see character flaws in other people that we refuse to see in ourselves. We believe ourselves to be smarter or more reasonable than others. Sometimes, we try to make ourselves feel less arrogant by dismissing other people's inferiority as a product of their poor upbringings or opportunities, thus making it a fluke of circumstances that they are inferior (and it could just as easily have happened to us) but we believe them to be inferior nonetheless.

The flip side of that coin is that we can just as easily believe that we ourselves are inferior to the people around us. We look at the money and opportunities and brains that we believe we lack and we feel inferior to other people. Just as easily as we are tempted to believe in our own superiority, we can be tempted to believe in our own inferiority.

While specifically addressing the first of these two problems, the Apostle Paul addresses them both in Romans 12:3: "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (NIV).  Notice, Paul doesn't say, "Take a sober look at how you compare to others." He says, "Think of yourself with sober judgment." We shouldn't compare ourselves to anyone else to see whether we are superior or inferior. We should simply take a good honest look at ourselves and be real about our own strengths and weaknesses. If God has gifted you with certain abilities then be honest with yourself about them. If there are areas of life where you simply struggle to survive then be honest, but don't start comparing yourself to other people for good or for ill.

Comparing yourself to other people is nothing more than a trap. Take a good, sober look at yourself and don't fall into it.

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