As a reflections of Western reflections on our place in the world in the early 21st century, external conflict is out and internal conflict is in. Witness growing resistance to the narrative of Western heroism on the world stage — a sense that our purposes are rarely so truly noble or our enemies as unabashedly evil as we have sometimes believed. Corruption among leaders at home and an increasingly ambiguous world stage on which we play have left us uneasy with the idea of heroism. We might debate whether this malaise is justified, but in any case it has deeply influenced the zeitgeist omnipresent in our current cultural narratives.
But all this is to our loss.
A world in which we cannot conceive of nobility and steadfastness in the face of temptation is a poor world indeed. Likewise, the inability to picture a man (or woman) who seeks the good unabashedly and without constant self doubt reveals a great gap in the sensibilities of our culture, especially our fascination with the entertainment subculture, at the moment. To be sure, there is value in the recognition of human foibles. Too stark a heroism, sans real internal conflict, rings false.
But humans have told hero stories for a long time for a reason.
As Christians, we possess the best story, with the best Superhero of all.
In the narrative of the short period of 33 years (against the backdrop of eternity), where we have eyewitness accounts of the life of Christ, we see no foibles of self doubt. Instead, we have a pattern to emulate when we consider:
1. How to respond to temptation: And Jesus answered him, It is said, ” You shall not put the Lord your God to the test. ” (Luke 4:12 ESV)
2. How to prioritize: Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62 ESV)
3. How to love: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34 ESV)
4. How to deal with bitterness :
Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21, 22 ESV)
5. How to write our conclusions: No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)
Then, and only then will the stories make sense. Aslan, Gandalf, Aragon, Luke Skywalker, and other heroes of epic tales will be seen as the shadows of that which is to come.
The One True Hero:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (Revelation 19:11 ESV)
The best part of this story, is that it is real, and that it has a place for you and me in its grand and complex narrative. In moments of despair, of frustration and of defeat, we can rest secure in the knowledge that all of His story is our story too.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15 ESV)
What are some ways that recognizing God as the hero of the story have changed your life?