Friday, June 1, 2018

The One Above All

 When his Asgardian companions, the Warriors Three, come to visit Thor on Midgard, the Mighty Avenger takes them on a tour of New York City. As the out-of-place foursome parade through the busy streets, a young boy announces excitedly, “Mama, look! It’s Thor! He claims to be a god, but Father O’toole says he isn’t!”

“Chad!” the mother chastises.

“Worry not, milady, for thy son’s words offend me not!” Thor replies. Thor kneels down, putting himself on the boys level, and asks, “Thou art called Chad?”

“Yep” The boy replies.

Smiling warmly, Thor explains, “Chad, far away from here there exists a home of gods, a realm of eternal wonder called Asgard. ‘Tis a place of great majesty and beauty whose residents strive to live just and beneficial lives. ‘Tis not, however, Heaven. Nor is it home to He whose radiance dwarfs e’en our own.” Rising to his feet once again, Thor towers over young Chad as he asks, “Does that put to rest thy questions?”

Smiling ear to ear, the boy responds, “You mean that big as you are, there’s something even bigger!?”

“Aye,” Thor answers.[1]

Some might find it surprising to hear a comicbook character, especial “the god of thunder,” speaking so humbly about the God of Heaven. Yet, Thor isn’t the only Marvel character to such allusions.

While traveling cross-country to California, Reed and Sue Richard’s train comes to sudden halt. On the tracks ahead of them stands Uatu—a member a vastly powerful, ancient race known as The Watchers. “What could have happened important enough to bring The Watcher here??” Reed urgently asks.

The Watcher replies, “My explanation shall be brief… The Silver Surfer – unmindful of the dread consequences – now runs amok amongst mankind!” When Reed offers to help, Uatu immediately teleports him to the scene.

Anxiously, Sue asks, “But what can he do against the all-powerful Silver Surfer!?”

“All powerful? There is only One who deserves that name!” Uatu reassures. “And His only weapon… is love!”[2]

Thor’s father, Odin, likewise humbly acknowledges this all-powerful God of love and radiance. When Jake Olsen—Thor’s one-time human host—dies, his spirit encounters the King of Asgard. “Are you… God?” Olsen asks.
“Nay, mortal. There is a power far greater than mine,” Odin admits, “and it is to Him I commend your spirit now!”[3]

The supreme God of the Marvel universe is called by many titles, but the one by which he is most commonly call is “The One Above All.”[4]

So, what’s the point? Although Thor, Odin, the Watcher and all these other fantastic characters are fictional, if these immortal beings of immense power can humbly acknowledge the existence of a transcendent God of infinite power and love who created their universe… couldn’t we mere mortals do the same?

When the apostle Paul visited the great Grecian city of Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. Rather than chastise the people of Athens for their idolatry, however, Paul took advantage of the opportunity to tell them about the One True God, the One above all others:

“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need… His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:22-28 NLT)

Paul spoke of a creative, commanding, caring and compassionate God—all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving. The God of the Bible is an unrivaled, uncontested God of infinite might and power and glory and awe! In short: The One Above All. But this God not only created us, he longs for us to know him. When we humbly acknowledge his existence and seek after him, we’ll discover that the One Above All is not far from any of us.

When Paul proclaimed the reality and radiance of this ‘Unknown God,’ the people of Athens responded in one of three ways: some laughed in contempt, some wanted to hear more, and a few joined Paul and became believers. How will you respond?

[1] Marvel Comics. Thor (1998) #28.
[2] Marvel Comics. Fantastic Four (1961) #72
[3] Marvel Comics. Thor (1998) Annual 2000.
[4] Marvel Comics. Infinity War (1992) #2.