You probably didn’t know that I am a retired superhero. Yes, when I was a kid, the girls called me “skinny.” The teachers called me “trouble.” My mother called me “late for dinner.” But there was more to me than met the eye. After sunset, I sprung into action. I’d slip into costume, walk through my bedroom wall and into the night air. There were bad guys to banish, maidens to rescue, cats to take out of trees. I leaped from tall buildings and shot lightning bolts from my eyeballs. I left baffled villains hanging from streetlights by their shoelaces. And when I rescued young maidens, they blew kisses my way as I disappeared into the night. Well, not all of that is true. Actually…none of it is. I was sleeping soundly – and dreaming of being a superhero.
The truth is, we’d all like to be remembered for doing something super. But the real superheroes don’t walk through walls and fire lightning bolts. They’re ordinary people who take the opportunities God gives them to do extraordinary things. I’ve been reading about such a person lately. His name is Robert Chapman. Chances are you haven’t heard of him. He didn’t author any bestselling books. He didn’t travel the world as a great missionary. Instead, he labored for 70 years in a remote corner of England. Friends said he’d never make a good preacher. He agreed and replied, “There are many who preach Christ, but not so many who live Christ; my great aim will be to live Christ.” And that’s what he did. Mr. Chapman was known for his love of children. Once, when invited to a church member’s house for tea, Chapman took a seat at a special table for distinguished guests. A rather plain table was set for the children, but he asked them to come sit with him instead and asked the adults to sit at the children’s table. The adults did their best to maintain their dignity in the children’s chairs, with tiny dishes and cutlery, while the children sipped from glass and china, enjoying the conversation of their distinguished visitor.
Robert Chapman treated “the least of these” with love and honour. He lived Jesus’ words in Matthew 20: “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” And serve he did. He left a high-paying legal career to live among the poor of Barnstaple, England. Many called Chapman, “The apostle of love.” He’s our ordinary extraordinary hero today. A man who reminds us that the pathway to greatness is through servanthood.
Perhaps we can be a superhero’s today too. By lifting others up. Encouraging them. Being kind to a child. Loving the unlovely. Spandex is overrated anyway.