A few years ago I met my 5 year old son outside his Sunday School class. He was walking slowly, looking intently at a class hand-out. "Mom," he asked in a troubled voice, "Which is cooler, who would you want to be?"
In a glance I saw his dilemma.
On the left side of the hand-out was a picture of a handsome, muscled and caped hero. The hero was staring bravely into the distance ready to fly off and save someone. The hero had been circled in pencil but the circle had been erased.
On the right side of the paper stood an anorexic bearded man wearing a dress with a beauty pageant sash- light blue of course. This fellow was looking down in a wimpy, depressed sort of way. He appeared ready to hide at the first sign of danger. He was circled too, but not erased.
Fast forward to yesterday; a slim book surfaced on my desk called "Your God Is Too Small" by J.B. Phillips. A section entitled, "Unreal Gods: The Meek and Mild" reminded me of the super hero hand-out episode. In the book Phillips complains that we teach a mild, bloodless Jesus, who is, "a bit of a nonentity" He writes, "We can hardly be surprised if children feel fairly soon that they have outgrown the "tender shepherd" and find their heros elsewhere."
Back to the hand-out. What a perfect illustration of Phillips' point. My son was scandalized when I confessed I'd much rather be the hero with the cape. He admitted that he had gotten the answer wrong too.
Wrong? It was a great opportunity to talk about Christ with the bull whip clearing out the temple, Christ in control of a wild storm at sea. Christ the super hero who saved all humanity, for all time. What's cooler than that?