Captain America: a theology of grace

Only the weak truly appreciate strength.

While it’s not quite “with great power comes great responsibility” from Spider-Man, what Dr. Abraham Erskine told Steve Rogers before he became Captain America carries a similar ring.

Those words echo throughout the latest film incarnation of a Marvel comic hero. While watching Captain America, I couldn’t help but dwell on one concept – grace. It may not have been obvious to the everyone, but it was the overarching theme of the movie.

Captain America was a lesson on grace.

Again, the cinematic origin story of Captain America continually brought to mind 2002’s Spider-Man, with a few key exceptions. Both heroes begin as underdogs unable to pursue the dreams they have. They don’t have the advantages or the abilities of so many around them.

In Peter Parker’s story, it is just a fortuitous turn of events that grant him all of his spidey powers. For Steve Rogers, he was specifically chosen, but not because he was worthy … at all.

He was chosen in spite of his frail exterior and fragile physique. Nothing on the outward appearance would lead one to think, “This guy should be a super hero.” But that is exactly what made him the one who was perfect for it.

The night before he was injected with the Super Soldier Serum, Rogers spoke with Dr. Erskine about choosing him for this momentous task. Rogers asked one question, “Why me?”

Earlier in the film, you find out he has been rejected from joining the military on multiple occasions. He wanted to join his fellow country men in defeating Hitler and Nazi Germany, but the Army would not accept him. Why? He had a sheet full of medical problems, one of which would be enough to disqualify him from service.

So, after the Army refusing to take him, why would they now choose him to become their ultimate weapon in World War II? Grace. Faith. Trust. Hope. Courage. Character. Those are what he possessed and others saw in him.

He didn’t want strength and power, except as a means to help others. He didn’t want to go to fight in Europe to kill Nazis. He wanted to go to there to stop a bully from hurting others.

Why did Dr. Erskine choose Rogers to receive physical and mental powers unrivaled by virtually any other human being on the planet? Because he was weak and “only the weak truly appreciate strength.”

Later in the film the villain Red Skull is talking with Captain America and as he is repeatedly hitting him, screams, “Why are you so special? What made you worthy?” In between absorbing the blows, Captain America, who still remembered what he was like, what it felt like to be weak, said, “Nothing.”

He knew he wasn’t special or if he was, his specialness lie in his weakness. Sound familiar? For when I am weak, then I am strong. Grace.

It’s the Christian life. I have nothing special to offer to God. There is no reason why He would choose me. All I have is weakness and failings. But he has chosen to place the surpassing treasure of His presence in this frail jar of clay.

As important as World War II was (and it was immensely important), the war we wage now is infinitely more important and the enemy is drastically more crafty and evil than Hitler. Even though this battle is so vital, God has entrusted you with His power to win it.

Go see Captain America. It’s a great summer action movie with plenty of humor and even a dash of romance. As you sit and watch the hero save the day on the screen know that God has chosen you in a similar way and granted you His presence and power to work with Him in the victory that He has already won and will complete one day.

God has chosen you because you were weak and only the weak truly appreciate strength.

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About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.