In some ways it seems like a poor choice for a superhero. One reason is because he doesn’t have any superpowers. A second reason is that he doesn’t come from another planet.
This is precisely why I like Batman. It would be very easy to be a superhero if you had powers which gave you an advantage over the bad guys. It isn’t surprising that Superman is superhero because of all his amazing abilities. Batman is unique because it is his discipline which allows him to be a superhero.
There is no doubt that the Wayne fortune makes it possible for Batman to have all those cool gadgets, but without a disciplined life Bruce Wayne would never be able to be Batman. He needs to be disciplined in various martial arts, in science, crime scene investigation, and a number of other areas. It is these disciplines, rather than superpowers, which give Batman an advantage over the bad guys.
When I examine my life I realize that I am not as disciplined as I should be. If I am every going to lose weight I need to be disciplined in my eating and exercise. If I am going to accomplish anything with my writing I need to be disciplined in setting aside time to write and edit. If I am going to grow to become more like Jesus I need to commit to doing spiritual disciplines.
All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, NLT).
One of the essential qualities that we need to have as Christians is discipline. I believe this discipline is seen in two ways.
- It is seen in the things we don’t do. An athlete will deny himself/herself things that ordinary people indulge in. Athletes will put certain foods (like processed foods) and certain activities (late night parties) off limits as they train to compete. Christians need to have the self-control to put certain things off limit. In Colossians 3:5 we read a list of things that we need to “put to death” as we pursue spiritual formation. We cannot experience transformation without giving up those things that damage our spiritual development.
- It is seen by the things we do. An athlete will spend time in the weight room, running, and practicing in order to become better. We need spend time doing the things which will make us better Christians. These things include the historical practices known as spiritual disciplines. Christians throughout history have found value and growth in doing things like fasting, meditating on Scripture, prayer, serving, and fellowship.
Batman is a fictional example of discipline and self-control. It is this quality that I most admire about Batman.
Why is Batman able to be so disciplined? He is able to exhibit such discipline because of a vow he made the night his parents were killed. Bruce Wayne’s discipline is the result of his trying to honor the vow to his parents.
The way we can be disciplined in our lives by being committed to a goal. As Christians that goal needs to be to honor the vow we made when we surrendered our lives to Jesus. A disciplined life is the natural result of a life given away to Jesus.