Do you remember 2004’s The Incredibles? It’s a movie that, in my humble opinion, is a strong contender for “the best superhero movie ever.” The film is quoted frequently among my family and friends, but one particular moment has stuck in my mind for years. As the villainous Syndrome, a childhood fan scorned by Mr. Incredible, describes his evil plan to the Parr family, he utters this line, laughing maniacally, “when everyone is super, no one will be.”
Syndrome’s plan is to make superheroes obsolete by equipping the whole world with the technology to have their own “powers.” With no real powers of his own, Syndrome’s plan is an attempt to give counterfeit power to everyone, redefining what it means to be “super.” Does that remind you of anyone? In Genesis 3, the serpent offers the same choice to Eve. “You will be like God,” he says, “knowing both good and evil. All you have to do is take and eat.”
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Is this guy really comparing The Incredibles to original sin?” Yes, I am, but stay with me. If we take a quick survey of our world, what do we see? We have been taught to claim power for ourselves, to define the world as we see fit, and to draw our own line between good and evil. Everyone is super. The only problem is when everyone is super… no one is. If everyone gets to define what is real… nothing is. If everyone gets to decide what is true… well, you get it. Is there some real quality of “power” out there that allows someone to decide what is good and evil, what is right and wrong?
Of course, there is. We call Him “God.”
One of God’s most fundamental functions in the cosmos is bringing definition to reality. He spoke creation into being, which means He reserves the right to decide what is real and what isn’t. The “power” to create and define the world around us is solely His. We don’t have it. He’s super, we aren’t.
Sin sells us counterfeit power. It tells us, “You can make the world how you want it. You can be like God. You can be super.” It’s an empty promise, an attempt to make God obsolete.
Alright, I digress from all the philosophical talk. Let’s get real.
I’m in my mid-twenties. I was raised in a post-Christian, post-truth world where reality is what an individual decides it is. You see, sin isn’t just something we do, it’s a power at war with the Kingdom of God. It’s a filter through which we see the world around us. For me, and many in my generation, the revelation that reality is defined outside of my psyche was shocking. I don’t say that lightly. I grew up in a world where “relative truth” was the norm. By the time I was a teenager, I had fully clothed myself in the counterfeit power of sin. I decided what was right and wrong. And do you know where it left me? Empty and alone. I didn’t have the power to get out of it, either. I was adrift in a sea of untruth. Fortunately, someone came in after me. Around their waist was a rope of truth anchored tightly to the cross.
You can call this an apologetic for a Christian worldview, a call for intellectual and moral coherence, or a plea for sanity. The fact is, God makes sense of the world around us.
Today more than ever, we need a new apologetic. Not a new message, mind you, for the cross is always enough, but a new method of delivery. “You’re a sinner” is a weightless claim in a world where everything is permitted. No, I think that the best approach to establishing the Kingdom in hearts today is to show that houses built on sand always fall over. The counterfeit power of sin is not the ground upon which you can build a life. It will leave you empty, bound, alone, and ashamed.
There’s a generation of young people who are yearning for something real, not “their truth” or something that’s real “to them,” something real. Some point in reality to which they can anchor themselves. Something that makes sense of the universe and their existence in it.
God makes the universe make sense, and right now, Syndrome is selling fakes. So, Christians, tie that rope around your waist and dive in.
Andrew Lyman is a Content Writer in Gateway’s NextGen Ministry, where he writes ministry content for Gateway Kids, Gateway Students, and Gateway Young Adults. Andrew has been married to his wife, Lily, for two years and has been on staff at Gateway since October of 2021.