Batman is one of my favorite superheroes. What I love the most about him is the fact that he has no superpowers and yet he can still fight supervillains. He’s a picture of what it looks like when a human being pushes themselves to reach their maximum physical and mental potential.
Before I move on, I admit that Batman’s not the perfect role model. From his bloodthirsty approach to crime-fighting, his unresolved emotional issues and his refusal to build close relationships with anyone, he’s got a lot he needs to work on. Plain and simply, Batman needs Jesus.
But there’s a lot about him that is truly inspiring. First and foremost is his pursuit of knowledge. He’s fluent in various languages including Spanish, French, Arabic, Farsii and Kryptonian. He’s a master of several martial arts including kung fu, judo, ninjitsu and muay thai and has an extensive knowledge of biology, chemistry, literature and philosophy with apparently a Ph. D level of expertise in each. When he wants to know something, he doesn’t wait for someone to come teach it to him—he goes and finds out himself.
But I’ll admit that I have the habit of asking God for more wisdom and knowledge and expecting Him to download information into my brain in the middle of the prayer. We have access to more knowledge today than at any other time in history, but we know so little. Batman poured energy into learning as much as possible to help him in his mission.
Batman is also a clear picture of what it looks like to be in the world, but not of it. Not only does he live in Gotham, but he knows Gotham better than any of the citizens themselves. He knows every subway tunnel and abandoned building gangs use as headquarters and knows every business that exists there(on account that he owns some of them). He’s in his world and is completely in tune with it. Too often, though, Christians will completely ignore the world around us and be completely ignorant of pop culture, social trends or current events for the sake of being “spiritually minded”. If secular music or secular movies cause you to fall into temptation, that’s one thing—run from them like Superman from kryptonite. But sometimes Christians try so hard to be not of this world that we’re completely disconnected from this world. There’s nothing inherently sinful about listening to Jay Z or Lady Gaga. The root issue, however, is why you’re joining nonbelievers in the things that they enjoy. Is it because you genuinely enjoy ungodly music and ungodly movies the same way or because you’re trying to understand their culture? Because as involved as he is with Gotham, Bruce Wayne doesn’t usually go to parties unless he’s using them to gather intel on the Joker’s next move.
Batman is in Gotham, but he’s clearly set apart from it. He’s a vigilante taking the law into his own hands to fight evil and abides by his own rules. It’s precisely because he lives above the law that he’s able to fight crime as effectively as he does. And as a result, he strikes fear in the hearts of criminals and evokes respect from citizens. It’s precisely because we’re not of this world that we have the power to change this world. When we spend all of our time entertaining ourselves with earthly things and devote no time to spiritual things, we’re useless when it comes to bringing the Kingdom of God anywhere around us.
Lastly, but of course not least, Batman is completely aware of the injustices around him. There’s no crime that he isn’t already working on dismantling. Jesus came to save us from our individual sins, but sin isn’t just individual—it’s systemic and manifests itself in physical ways like human trafficking, genocide and poverty. The cross covers all of those things and Jesus came to redeem the world from these evils as well. As Christians, we don’t have to try to take on every problem in the world, but there are injustices in our own neighborhoods, our own little Gothams, that we can tackle.
I’m writing this to challenge you to think of your church, your campus or even your own home as your Gotham City. What would it look like to be Batman there? What would it look like to find out who the Joker is at your school and figure out how to take him down? But I’m not encouraging physical violence here. Remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood so the villains won’t be people, they’ll be spirits, or in the case of college campuses, ideas. What would it look like to devote yourself to your calling with as much tenacity that Batman has with his?
But there’s one thing that Batman does that we shouldn’t do—work alone. He’s notorious for being a lone ranger, but we’re not designed to do things alone—we need each other. So find yourself a Justice League and work together to bring God’s Kingdom to your Gotham City.