RhetoricAndHomiletics: Creating & Stating A Big Idea

kentI read this statement today and again thought of how BigIdeas are created and stated.

“Sometimes we pray for Superman and He gives us Clark Kent.”

That statement could be a great “BigIdea” that captures the argument of various biblical passages — i.e. Moses / Gideon / Jospeh / Barnabas.

If you go analytical, [after you “ckl” (chuckled) [1] and enjoyed the way it was stated] you will realize that the author grabbed the two sides of something (in this case, a mythical and well-known person) and played them against each other.  The two sides, in this case, were “unlimited powers” and “the average & ordinary.”  In this case, the two sides were captured in one individual object-person.” 

In the long version, the BigIdea or driving main point would be . . . . 

“Sometimes when we pray to the Lord, we are looking for Him to do the supernatural, while He works in much more common and ordinary ways.  Those common and ordinary ways are often dressed up in far different clothes than we were expecting or desiring.” 

All that, and more, is said in contrasting “Superman” and “Clark Kent,” — in stating ““Sometimes we pray for Superman and He gives us Clark Kent.”  

Note: The illusion is also designed to carry the point that — “It did not turn out as you anticipated.”  You can use the same illusion and drive home a far different point — that of a surprising supernatural power.

The Lord will often dress up as “Clark Kent” but at the end show up like Superman.  Gideon doesn’t look like he has any power to overcome all the Midianites and Amalekites’ armies.  The Lord takes on the garb of “a Gideon,” and turns him and his small army into a supernatural overpowering force that destroys their armies!

Once you go “analytical” and understand what was done, you can then “replicate” it in different ways.  

For instance, I could use  — “Charles Atlas” and “The Hulk.”  Both have immense strength, but one only becomes strong when angered!  Or in sticking with fictional characters — Batman vs. The Hulk.  Or going biblical —  David & Goliath vs. Samson & Delilah. 

Here are some other attempts at “opposites” . . . . 

  • Hot vs. Mild: It has peppers, but they are ghost peppers.  Has a waiter or waitress said something like . . . “It has onions, garlic, and peppers.”  Well, upon eating it, you realize that it does have peppers.  But it was made with ghost peppers and not green peppers.  When you begin dating those who know not Christ, you may be fooled by what is being served up during those early days of courting.  You were convinced that you were buying green peppers, only to find out after marriage that you had picked up ghost peppers instead.
  • Limited vs. Unlimited:  The Christian life is not an LLC!  As you know, there are different ways to organized a business.  One of the most popular is an LLC — Limited Liability Corporation.  If there are any legal actions taken against an LLC, the financial loss is limited to the corporation’s assets, not the owner’s other or personal property.  Not living for the Lord is not an LLC — others are affected by your decisions and actions.
  • Rest vs. Motion:  Life is not motion or rest, but a combination.  The heart at rest is called diastolic; when in motion, pumping the blood, it is called systolic.  Both “pressures” are needed for your body to function properly.
  • Sweet vs. Bitter:  Bitter & Sweet are often connected.  It began as sweet and turned bitter.  It began bitter and turned out to be sweet.  Joseph knew of that reality in both directions.
    As John stated, the scroll was sweet as honey in his mouth but turned his stomach sour.  After much patience, the judgment of God was sweet, but watching it play out was bitter  — it soured his stomach.

    or — Picked up the bitter-sweet rather than the milk chocolate.

  • King vs. Subject: You are no longer king; you are now the subject!  That is what happens when temptation and sin are unconfessed.  You no longer reign over your life; it makes you its subject.
  • Rich vs. Poor:  Penthouse To The Poorhouse — You thought you were rich, but you were actually poor.
  • Private vs. Public:  Said In Confidence, But Now On The Front Pages — You thought it was private, but it quickly became public.

Other Potential & Useful Opposites: 

  • Odd and even
  • Light and dark
  • One and many
  • Right and left
  • Rest and motion
  • Good and bad
  • Straight and crooked
  • Square and oblong
  • Laugh and cry
  • Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde
  • Broad and narrow
  • Beep and wide
  • Foolish and wise
  • Prepared and unprepared
  • Lofty and lowly
  • Squatter and owner


1. “CKL” = “Chuckled” — my new three letters to replace “LOL.” Does anyone use the word “chuckled” anymore?

P.S. That’s the “Clark Kent” I remember.

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