Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Becoming Someone Else (Superior Spider-Man)

Have you felt it? Anything different? Your world has changed. Have you noticed?

In a story-arc beginning with ASM #698, the near-dead Doctor Otto Octavius (Doc Ock) managed to swipe bodies with Peter Parker. This left Pete stuck on Riker's Island trapped in a body not of his own.

As the story continued, Pete was able to use one of Ock's back-up plans to break out of jail with the help of some villains. But, as the year drew to a close so did the life of Puny Parker. In a last-ditch effort, Pete attempted to do something he swore that he would never do: kill.

As his time of death in his old decrepit body drew to an end, Doc Ock captured all of Pete's friends and family in the guise of protecting them. Parker believed that the only way to protect the world from the villain who had taken over his body would be to kill him.

Otto: "Think about it. How much time do you have left? Minutes? Seconds?"
Pete: "More than enough to put an end to you."

Otto: "Ha!... You never had the stomach for this game. Where I, on the other hand--"
Pete: "--would go to any lengths. I-I can't allow that. Not with that body. [Not with my body.]"

Otto: "What?! What do you think you're--?"
Pete: "Ending this. Here and now!"

And, with that, Pete jumps out the window, pushing Ock out with him.

Ock uses webbing to catch their fall, but Pete's frail body couldn't take it. As he lies on the ground, dying, both men realize how intertwined their memories have become. Although it is really Ock in Pete's body and Pete in Ock's, both of them have retained some of the other's memory. Pete's entire life flashes before both of their eyes.

Otto remembers when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. He recalls that he was there when his Uncle Ben died. He was the one who failed to stop the killer. He was the one unable to save his beloved Gwen Stacy and her father. He was the one who had learned (the hard way) that with great power must also come great responsibility.

Pete: "You wanted to be Spider-Man. Well guess what? It's more than the powers."
Otto (as the memories flood over him): "Please. No more. It's too much. I can't... ... can't go on."
Pete: "Yes. You can you'd be surprised how much you can do. How many things are worth fighting for."

Pete's last breaths draw him to only one other conclusion. There is one frail hope. One small glimmer of a future. He knows that however crooked Otto had been before, the world needs him now. The world still needs Spider-Man. Although, Parker had been defeated, his last thoughts turn from regret and sorrow to a weak faith in his one-time nemesis.

Otto: "I-I don't want this."
Pete: "Too late. Careful what you wish for... Spidey."
Otto: "Tell me. Why do I--How can I do this?"
Pete: "Because you have to. Because... with great power..."
Otto: "... must come great responsibility. I understand."
Pete: "You better. You're Spider-Man now."

Have you felt it? Anything different? Your world has changed. Have you noticed?

I mentioned Heraclitus a couple of weeks ago. History would know him as "The Weeping Philosopher."  Perhaps it was because although he lived in a culture that stressed "permanence," he proclaimed that there was no such thing. He would say that everything has changed, changes, and will change. "One cannot step into the same river twice."

But, even in his dreary philosophy, there was still something that never changed. He called this "Logos." Heraclitus saw Logos as the main balancer of the universe, a fire that bonded and worked all things together. It was "the principle of life and intelligence," the source of everything.

Although, Heraclitus was no theologian, John used the same word to describe God. In this ever-changing world, the Lord is the only constant. Time cannot even hold Him. And, then He became flesh. This was not only to guide us back to Him, but also to give us worth; to redeem us by His sacrifice.

Your world has changed. Have you noticed?

While even Heaven and Earth shall pass away, God remains the same. Ever-loving, ever-merciful, and never-ceasing. He is the rock. He is the cornerstone. He is the only safe raft to cling to as we leave this dying island.

What does this mean? We should give everything to Him (it is His already after all). I'm not talking about (just) money. I'm talking about work, time, life. And, more importantly, the things we care about the most. "I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess" (Martin Luther).

Wait, this sounds too much like "works righteousness." If I know anything about God, the punchline is that He does it all. In reality, we're pretty helpless. We were sinners by birth. Still, "we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." "So we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."

"BUT if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!" The question here arises because we know that we already have been changed. This change wasn't some obscure secular one (just like all the others). But, finally, we have been made holy and clean by the blood of the Lamb. Christ has changed us by redeeming us, making us worth something. BUT we continue to sin. Does this mean that Christ has led us to sin? "Certainly not!"

"For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God." The Law has crushed us, broken us, and left us for dead. "I have been crucified with Christ." We've changed. It wasn't "works righteousness." It wasn't by deeds or merits. In fact, it wasn't by our own means at all. Christ has changed us through His death and resurrection. He has led us to this path of securing everything in Him, our faith, our hope, our life.

"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." It is only through His grace that we are allowed to hear Him, know Him, and cling to Him... even in this ever-changing world.

Have you felt it? Anything different?

Just as he always has, Peter Parker has resembled us: The normal, average, failure of a person who tries his best to be a decent guy and never sees himself on par with all of the others. And, it is in this attempt, this catastrophic failure of falling out of a skyscraper and dying close to impact that gives us perspective. It shows us where we are with the law. "By works of the law no one will be justified." This shows us how empty we really are. We are in our last breaths. Humanity itself is slipping away.

There we see him: Someone who knows us better than we even know ourselves. And, we're tired of trying. We can think of only one other conclusion. One other place to put our trust (besides ourselves), somewhere safe, somewhere final. We have one frail hope. One small glimmer of a future.

As our life fades like the memory of our last breath, we have finally put our trust in something someone secure. He has great power and we are his responsibility. He can take care of us and do what is right. Now, we must live in him.

"It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

It's a new year, are you ready?

**The panels and the pictures in the book are priceless. I highly suggest getting the comic; I can't really do it justice here. And, the Bible verses were from Galatians 2.

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