Spiderman has a problem. He knows he has the ability to help people and rescue them, but he just wants to be your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, he doesn’t want to do anything bigger, anything more global. So when his class take a trip to Europe he leaves his Spidey suit behind, so he can just enjoy the sights and woo the girl he loves. However, there are others who have bigger plans for him. They want him to step up and save the world from a huge watery monster.
There are plenty of young folks in the Bible who get involved with changing the world, though some are cautious and reluctant about fulfilling their calling. In Judges 6 Gideon tells an angel he can’t do anything because he is the weakest person in his family, who belong to the weakest clan in Israel. In chapter 1 of his book, Jeremiah says he can’t speak for God because he is too young. Paul writes to Timothy and tells him not to let anyone look down on him for his lack of years. Mary is young, Esther too, and Ruth. All world-changing women. John the disciple was certainly a young guy when Jesus called him, and the other disciples may well have been too. Peter’s initial response in Luke 5 is to fall on his face and beg Jesus to leave him alone. He doesn’t feel up to the job at all. Lots of young folks, lots of Spider-men and -women who worry that they are not up to the job. And yet… God knows that with his help they can come through.
I have recently been reading Dirty Glory and Red Moon Rising, both by Pete Greig, both books about the 24-7 Prayer movement. A movement which is specifically grounded in the lives of young Christians around the globe. I love the tales from the prayerful youngsters at work in Ibiza, where they have conversation-starting cigarette lighters inscribed with the words, Jesus – the light of the world. Innovative, culturally-aware thinking. God is on the move, and he is clearly still calling young Spider-women and -men to take on the challenge. When I was 18 and a new Christian, a friend and I decided to start a drama group (me) and a band (him). I knew hardly anything about drama, but I loved doing it, and before I knew it I was leading two separate groups of young Christians, performing in various places to communicate the good news of Jesus. I felt a little bullet-proof back then and was eager to take on the world. I’m sure God loves the ragged, spiky enthusiasm of young folks. He loves the energy and big thinking and the haven’t-yet-tried-it-yet-so-why-not-give-it-a-go attitude. As we get older we can become wiser, but jaded too, and wearied by life. We need the chaotic spider-types to keep rattling our cages and waking us up when we doze off. I do anyway.