Have you ever run into a Christian who believes they have superpowers? I’m a huge fan of all things comic book related, and my office has more toys than any grown man should ever have. I’m not talking about flying or super strength but what you might call “Christian” super powers. Occasionally I get asked to speak at events that bring together several different denominations. At one recent event the leaders asked if they could pray with me before I spoke. I need all the prayer I can get, so I was thankful that they would lift me up in prayer. As they prayed everything seemed fairly normal, but right afterwards there were two comments that caught me by surprise.
The first comment was from one of the main leaders who told me that he had recently learned how to focus his prayer by stretching out his hand and concentrating on the person he was praying for. I had noticed him do this very dramatically right before we prayed, but I hadn't thought much of it. His remark immediately brought to my mind scenes from the Star Wars movies where Luke Skywalker could make things move by stretching out his hand and focusing his mind. He then told me he felt power leave his body and go into mine and he was curious if I had felt it. Since I didn’t feel anything and I did not want to be rude, I just smiled awkwardly and tried to find an exit.
The second comment was from a young lady; after we had prayed she let me know that during our prayer time God had told her that I was being healed. I wasn’t sick, nor do I have any physical disabilities other than being short with a receding hairline, so I was not sure what healing would have taken place. This very kind young lady stood there waiting for me to be excited about this healing that she was certain I had received. I was still a little stunned by the previous comment, so I found myself just staring wide eyed back at her. I finally reminded my self to blink and smile politely.
I am a big believer in the supernatural, but I am afraid of what the charismatic movement has done and continues to do to the church. Though the traditional conservative Baptist church might not have tongues or people flopping around in the aisle during a church service, some of the same thinking is creeping in. I call it the Christian Superhero Syndrome. Let me make a few points as to why I rejected their claims at something supernatural taking place. Firstly, there is no evidence in scripture of someone being able to focus or make prayer more effective by reaching our their hand and concentrating on Jesus. It’s just not biblical. The only way to make prayer more effective is to be a righteous person who consistently prays things in line with the will of God.
Secondly, when Jesus healed someone they knew it immediately. Neither Jesus nor the disciples healed someone and then made them guess at how and where they were healed. The ambiguous language of the young woman would have two effects on a naive believer: it would make them admire the woman’s ability and power to hear from God and to deliver healings, and also encourage that person to strive to have that power in the future only to be disappointed when they never heard from God in that manner. If God heals you, you are going to know about it, and he is going to make sure he gets the glory for it. If these had been my friends I would kindly ask for a chapter and verse from scripture to validate their claims at the supernatural. Having been caught off guard and considering that they were strangers, I simply let it slide. My friends, do not encourage these kinds of practices because they are in fact destructive and a hindrance to the real work the Holy Spirit wants to do, which is to conform each person into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.