In the latest Spider-man reboot, the villain, Dr. Connors is a mutant lizard who is seeking to create a perfect race of people. At least, that’s who he became, but it’s not who he always was.
Dr. Connors started out as a one-armed scientist who was looking for a cure for his arm. He was searching for a way to regenerate what was lost, like a lizard can regenerate a missing tail. When he started out, he simply wanted to find a way to cure the ills of the world. It sounds like a noble mission. Maybe it was, but it didn’t stay that way. “This is no longer about curing ills,” he stated. “This is about finding perfection.” “I wanna create a world without weakness.”
Perfection. A world without weakness. It sounds good. Actually, it sounds great. A perfect world without weakness—we all long for that. We long for it because it is what we were created for. We long for it because God wrote it on our hearts. He created that place and he created us for it. The place is heaven and we who trust in God will be there with Him in heaven one day.
Dr. Connors’ longing for a world without weakness, a world of perfection, wasn’t necessarily wrong. Where Dr. Connors went wrong was thinking that he himself was the one who could achieve it. He made the same mistake Satan made—he wanted to be like God. He didn’t want to follow God, He wanted to be God. He wanted to create a world without weakness. That’s God’s job. God is the creator of the world and He is the “author and perfecter of our faith.”
Dr. Connors’ second mistake was that he desired his own strength more than God’s strength. He hated his weakness (his missing arm). When he had a taste of power, he didn’t care what that power cost him. He just liked the feeling of power. He didn’t realize that his weakness had made him strong in other areas, like compassion and empathy. He didn’t realize how it had driven him to find perfection in other areas, like his work. If he had realized those things, he might have learned to see that weakness as a strength—but he didn’t, and his short-sighted quest for power ended up costing him dearly.
Contrast Dr. Connors with what Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul had a completely different approach to weakness than Dr. Connors did. Because Paul valued Jesus more than himself, he was willing to be weak if Christ got more glory. It’s not that Paul didn’t value power and perfection—on the contrary. I would even say he valued it more than Dr. Connors did. Ultimately, Dr. Connors valued himself the most. He did what would make himself strong, in himself. Paul was different. He sought power and perfection more than he sought his own glory. Therefore, he was quick to realize where real power and perfection came from and how they were best manifested. He recognized that Jesus is the source of power and the means of perfection, and they are best manifested through human weakness. When we are strong, we get in the way. We begin to think we don’t need God or others. We lose our compassion and humility. Our weakness brings us to our knees in humble grace, honoring and recognizing the source of all good things.
It was for the sake of power and perfection which are only truly found in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, that Paul learned to boast in his weaknesses and difficulties. Dr. Connors couldn’t do that, because he wasn’t living for the sake of power and perfection, but for the sake of his own self.
Let Dr. Connors be a cautionary tale. If you are seeking your own glory, your own perfection and power, just like Dr. Connors, just like Satan before him, it will be your downfall. When you try to take the glory that is due God, when you try to be Him in power and perfection (rather than trying to be like Him, to follow Him and serve Him), it will go badly for you. The only answer is to take the position of Paul. Realize that God’s grace covers your weaknesses and he makes his power perfect in your weaknesses. Be willing to even be thankful for and boast in your shortcomings, failures, and weaknesses, knowing that God is able to work all things to good and being willing to expose yourself that His power may rest upon you. Know that when you look to Jesus with your weaknesses, your very weaknesses become strong.
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you perceive are the weaknesses in your life? How do you feel about them?
- Although the quest for perfection can seem like a good thing, do you see how it can also be a very prideful thing…especially if you want to perfect yourself, vs. asking God to perfect Himself in you?
- Do you think it might have been different for Dr. Connors if he had been trying to help someone else vs. helping himself?
- When it comes to your view of your weaknesses, are you more like Dr. Connors or more like Paul?
- When you look at the things you perceive as weaknesses in your life, can you also see any ways in which they are also strengths, or have at least produced strengths in other areas?
- When you look at your strengths, gifts, and talents, do you see some ways in which those may also be weaknesses, have created blind spots, etc.?
- Can you trust God with your weaknesses? Have you asked him, as Paul did, to relieve you of your weaknesses? Can you trust Him with the answer—whether he chooses to take away your weaknesses, or perfect His power in them? He is perfectly able to do either if you let Him.
-By Stacey Tuttle-