One of my favorite things about Marvel’s super heroes is that they are flawed characters. Other than Captain America, most of the heroes in Marvel’s universe have some sort of character flaw. The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t even touched on Tony Stark’s alcoholism, but he still has plenty of flaws.
In the original Iron Man Tony Stark is a selfish jerk, only concerned with the acquisition of material things. He sells weapons without giving much thought to how they could be used to harm people. But as long as his weapons were supporting his extravagant lifestyle he didn’t care how they were being used.
Stark’s materialism shouldn’t surprise us, though; people have always wrestled with materialism. Even one of Jesus’s closest followers had materialistic tendencies.
Judas was one of Jesus’s disciples. Even though he eventually betrayed Jesus, Judas started as one of Jesus’s 12 closest followers. His materialism eventually led him astray; Judas lost sight of what was important because he was too focused on money.
When an expensive bottle of perfume was used to anoint Jesus, Judas was furious. He said that the perfume could have been sold for the poor, but he really just wanted the money for himself. In his gospel Mark insinuates that this event is what pushes Judas to betray Jesus. Because he didn’t get the money from the perfume, Judas turns to the Pharisees to line his pockets instead.
We’d definitely like to see ourselves in Tony Stark more than we would in Judas. At their core, though, they wrestled with the same issue: materialism. The only difference is that Tony got beyond his materialism and was able to make a difference in the world. Judas couldn’t get beyond his materialism and his flaw kept him from seeing how God wanted to use him in the world.
It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of materialism. We’re constantly told that our phones, clothes, cars and video game systems aren’t good enough. If we’re constantly focused on what we don’t have, though, we’ll miss out on what God has in store for us. The other 11 disciples spread the gospel around the world, an opportunity Judas missed out on because of his materialism.
I’d hate to miss out on God’s plan for me because the Apple Watch or an Xbox One distracted me. It’s not a sin to have nice things, but it is a sin to let those things pull us away from God’s intention for our lives.
What helps you be less materialistic?