I saw Iron Man for the first time a few months ago. I like superhero movies; my favorite ones exemplify a desire to do what is right no matter what the cost, to help those who can’t help themselves, and to show some sort of growth toward goodness and a sense of humble sufficiency in the job of wiping out evil. I like the reluctant messiah, pushed into the job by bad circumstance and revelation of the desperate need of others.
Tony Stark, weapons genius, gets that revelation and has a change of heart. A harrowing encounter with terrorists who have acquired a stockpile of his weapons is his catalyst. As he sees the harm they’re inflicting on innocent people with his own Stark Industries weapons, his entire focus changes from being a self-getter to being a self-giver. During his experience his physical heart is damaged and he builds a small reactor that fits inside his chest wall to power it – a fitting symbol.
With his new identity as a self-giver he begins to dream up a way he can undo some of the damage his weapons were doing. He builds a titanium suit, powered by that reactor in his chest. The suit is nearly invincible. He can fly, shoot missiles, and has a heads-up display in his helmet that can target the bad guys and spare the innocent.
This movie has given me a visual in my relationship with Christ that has lasted for months. After seeing it I realized that for years my focus has been too hard on one side of a paradox. I had a revelation 15 years ago. Christ is in me as my life, my power source, my new heart. That’s amazing, wonderful. It has revolutionized my life. But how would Tony Stark fare against the bad guys with just the reactor in his chest and no titanium armor?
There have been many times where I’ve been knocked down, even though I know Christ lives in me. That Fact is what has always given me power to get up again. But I realized, partly through Iron Man, that I was not always putting on my titanium suit. I had over-emphasized Christ in me to the exclusion of me in Christ. He is my rock fortress, my hiding place, my shield and buckler, as King David said. Christ is the armor that we must put on – we must hide ourselves in Him, and in that we truly become Iron Men.
I now know I’ve got a titanium suit that has a divine tracking system to target evil (the demonic) and spare the innocent (people), weaponry (the Word, faith, prayer) that can take care of any situation I’m in. This is an invincible suit of armor I own. All I’ve got to do is put it on every day and make sure the power is on. “Having done all, to stand.” The freedom I’ve experienced since I’ve learned this is priceless.
One more thing: Stark puts the suit on by surrendering; he lifts his arms and offers his body as a living sacrifice, and the computer-driven machine puts the suit on his body.
Iron Man stimulates me to think, to reason, to feel, to act. That’s one testimony to the power of story.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.