#1069 – Tony Stark and Judas

robert-downey-jr-tony-stark

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?

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2 Responses to “#1069 – Tony Stark and Judas”

  1. Just read a pertinent quote from Karl Barth on this the other day. He was discussing the petition for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer and said, “May we not behave like well-satisfied bourgeois or like greedy creatures at the moment when thou bestowest upon us anew this incomprehensible and incompatible gift, this gift of thy patience, and of our hope. Act in such a way that we do not squander and destroy this gift… Grant that all who have a surplus of this bread may know by this very fact that they are appointed as servants, as dispensers of thy grace, that they are in thy service and in the service of others… How shameful is our social ingratitude and injustice! How senseless it is that in this humanity surrounded by thy gifts there are people still dying of hunger!”

    So, sometimes a good, stern theological talking-to helps me be less materalistic!

    I’ve also been cutting back on the amount of geeky stuff I get because, while it’s more fun than lots of material possessions, it’s still just stuff in the end. Not only can it draw us away from God, but it will one day end up in a landfill doing more harm to the planet God has entrusted to us. So I try to keep that in mind, too. I’m not saying I always succeed or am totally cured of materailism, but I’m aware of it and, with God’s help, working on it.

    • That’s a great quote! Definitely thinking about all of the stuff I have but haven’t used gives me pause when thinking of buying something new.

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