Iron Man suddenly receives a communication and with the new Cap' tagging along, they go to address the situation. It turns out that the Patriot and the new (female) Hawkeye were the problem. They had come out of hiding from the law (they had been hiding from Iron Man and his Superhuman Registration Act) in order to stop an evil villain (Firebrand) from blowing up a gas station. After they stopped the villain, Iron Man assumed the new Cap' would follow his lead and arrest the two young heroes.
Characteristically of Clint Barton (Hawkeye), he rebels in order to stand up for what he believes is right. He, almost ironically, picks the kids' side because they were only trying to do good (just as the real Captain America would have if he were still in the picture). During this he is able to realize what it truly means to bear another's legacy from the new Hawkeye. She helps Barton see the difference between living in someone's honor and trying to replace them. She says, "The second you put on that uniform, it's a different argument." She shares that he is not trying to honor Cap, but to replace him. The Patriot is even more frank when he says, "Look, we're just trying to do the job, learn the job, inspired by our heroes. Not pretending to be one of them." Barton lets the two heroes get away and turns down Iron Man's offer of being the next Captain America. Even though Iron Man thought that America needed a Captain America, Barton realized that it was not him, it never could be him, and even if it was him he couldn't play into Tony Stark's political trap (trying to get "Captain America" on his side of the Civil War).
This reminds me of what the Christians tried to do after Christ had left them. Even though they understood that he was not truly dead, in fact he beat death and had risen and ascended, they seemed to think that they needed someone to replace him. Without Christ still physically on earth they felt more comfortable if they could follow a different leader.
This is what Paul is witnessing in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. He writes, "Each one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Cephas,' or 'I follow Christ.'" Paul retorts to this idea sarcastically, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" The mere idea of following someone other than Christ confounds Paul. He knows that no matter what, no one else could live up to the expectations of Jesus. He was the only Son of Man who could possibly be perfect as he was also the Son of God. Paul knows that even he has a thorn in his flesh and all of humanity has partaken in the corruption of sin. Due to this, there cannot be another perfect being. Just like Hawkeye knew it was impossible for him to replace Cap, it would be impossible for any other man to fulfill the role of Jesus. This is not only because he was such a great and honorable man; but, he, in fact, was perfect.
So then, what can we do? We know that our Lord and Savior chose to die for our sins. But, it is easy to forget that he has risen and ascended. Here, we should remember that he is still truly with us. It is not as if Christ has really left us, for he is always near. But, there is also a void in the knowledge that we are lacking Christ's perfection. If we love him so much, why can't we be as perfect as he was? It often seems as if we should at least attempt to do something in repayment to him; if for no other reason, to live in his legacy. This is where our Law comes in. Christ has become the perfect Gospel and the fulfillment of the Law, but we are still left the Law as a means to better follow him. Instead of hiding from it like the heroes needed to hide from the Registration Act, we are meant to embrace it. It is not a Law that harms, but a Law that protects. With the knowledge that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), we can address the Law willingly, to take on the challenge. It is not as if the Law now saves us, because Christ has already done that, but we can willingly complete the Law not only to please and glorify God, but also to honor Christ.
Like the Patriot and Hawkeye who chose not to replace, but to resemble their idols, we now resemble Christ. In fact, through faith in him, Paul reveals that we can go even a step further. Galatians 2:20 states, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Becoming transformed by the Gospel (Romans 12:2), we now let Christ shine through us. We do not replace God, but we help him (in a way) to replace us. He rids us of our wretched thorns in our flesh and our corruptions to sin so that we may be like him in a deeper way than we could ever even attempt to be like another person.
To be continued...
Make sure to check in next time
as we discuss the fourth stage of grief "Depression:"