by Ganns Deen

Ah, faith, that misunderstood, over-interpreted, woefully underappreciated word. If only it were as simple as music: for persons who grew up in the 80s, faith meant George Michael in skintight jeans; persons in the 90s knew the Limp Bizkit version. Regardless, it’s funny how many people question a person’s faith in God, with evidence right in front of their noses, but don’t bat an eyelash when it comes to believing other hard-to-prove concepts, like life on other planets, or Bigfoot, or the Marcos wealth. Some of us are pretty easy to please. Others need the info banged into their heads with a shovel. (That last part’s a joke.)

Fact is, we use faith every day. For instance, we have faith that we’ll wake up the next morning, or faith that big coffee chains will continue to make overpriced coffee, or that one day Rachael Lampa will grant us an interview. In this regard, faith is as simple as trust, and we need it to interact with the real world, as Paul Little says in his book, Know Why You Believe (OMF Literature, P169.75).

Take Spiderman’s Peter Parker, for instance.

This guy pretty much grew up a believer in science (and the notion, however far-fetched, that one day Mary Jane would fall for him). Science never truly failed him, and neither did his Uncle Henry and his Aunt Mae. In this regard, he trusted the world. However, faith is only as good as the object of the faith. So, Peter could have that strong faith that Aunt Mae and Uncle Henry would be with him forever, but it’s misplaced, because we know one day, they would die (and Uncle Henry does). No matter how strong our faith may be, if the object of the faith is largely untested, our faith is pretty much useless.

Faith in something tested, however, is something completely different! Take Little’s example of skating on ice: even if you have little faith that the ice can hold you, if the ice can hold you, it will. A reliable object of faith will continue to be reliable, regardless of the strength of your faith. So imagine the surprise of Peter Parker, therefore, when he experiences new powers as the result of a radioactive bug bite! Something completely untested, something completely unknown! What can he do?

He tests the powers!

This makes sense, don’t you think? If you’re going to go somewhere far, it makes sense to test the car. If you’re going to become a human spider, you try to climb a wall or spit web out your wrists!

Now, admittedly, our faith can be influenced. Previous knowledge or experience of the object of faith, can affect it (for example, if we’ve always had hard times taking tests, odds are good that we won’t have much faith in our test-taking abilities during the next time). Since Peter had no experience at all of being a human spider, nor was there any record of anyone else experiencing that, he had no one to influence his faith in himself.

Faith in self, however, is a tricky thing. Remember what you read earlier about faith in something untested is not the best way to go? When Peter put all that faith in himself, he was putting himself in trouble.

In Spiderman 2, Spiderman comes to the conclusion that he’d rather turn his back on his powers and go back to being Peter Parker. He doubts his calling, his powers, his abilities, his intentions. When he does, his powers leave him, only to return when he has mustered enough faith in himself and his calling, and when something vitally important to him is put in danger.

Doubt is common and natural in one’s spiritual walk. When one doubts, one questions. And when one questions, one looks for answers. In Peter’s case, he turns to Aunt Mae, who tells him that regardless of who he is, she will continue to love him.

And that’s what makes faith so great. Faith that love will continue to triumph. Faith that Jesus Christ will return. Faith that one day, Satan will get a swift kick in the butt all the way down to eternal damnation. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NIV) In Romans 1:19, Paul writes that, through creation, “God has made it plain to them” (by them, he means all people). Peter Parker is now Spiderman, and he knows it. Those of us who know of God’s existence trust that it was God who allowed the creation of Spiderman, that Peter can do good work, knowing that, as Spiderman trumpets, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

So, Spiderman dove into the fight with Doc Ock and the Green Goblin. He may have had doubts that he’d win, and we will, too, when we go up against Satan. Keep firm to James 1:3-4, though: “for when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let is grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” Be strong!