The Hero's Gospel
I have always had a bit of a “hero complex.” When I was a kid, I would watch epic movies and create these grand fantasies of saving the galaxy as a Jedi Knight or casting out evil as a wizard or saving the world as an international man of mystery. But you want to know who I never dreamt of being?
‘Crewmember #6’ or ‘Guy Sipping on Blue Milk in Canteen,’ or ‘Man Killed with Flying Curse Just to Show How Serious the Moment Is.’
Never once have I dreamt of becoming simply an extra or background character, the guy who gets ten seconds of screen time before the hero reappears with some witty one liner. I would wager you have never dreamed to be that character either. I would safely assume most of us have a desire inside us to save the world, to rescue the maiden, or bring balance to The Force.
In a lot of ways, I think the desire to be the hero is an awesome thing. But this hope for a noble cause reveals my greatest fear: the fear of living an insignificant life.
In my opinion, an insignificant life is one without purpose. It is a life without a cause or a legacy that lives on long after I have passed.
This fear has always been a part of my life, and it has even led me on some of my favorite adventures. But this attempt has always left me… unfulfilled. Constantly striving. Exhausted.
But what if we humans were never meant to be the hero of the story?
To figure this out, I think we need to observe the beginning of our own story. But our story didn’t begin with us…
In the beginning, God existed perfectly by Himself. He is all-powerful, all-good, and all-loving. Out of that love, He began to create.
God literally spoke light into existence. He spoke the galaxies, the earth, the oceans and mountain ranges into being. He created giant sequoia trees and the smallest of vegetation. He created all the animals from the largest whales in the seas to the birds of the air with the sound of His voice. All of this God created, and He called it good.
But He made one creation uniquely. He took dirt from the ground and formed it into a body. He breathed life into it, and at that moment man was created. God said this was very good because it was the only creation made in His image.
Along with this first man, the first woman was created, and they were tasked with caring for the earth and all of its inhabitants, enjoying a perfect relationship with their Creator. They were given a wonderful and perfect purpose.
But… even they began to desire something more. They desired to be the hero, to be gods. Eventually, they were tempted by the true Enemy to break God’s one and only rule: not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. The Enemy promised that if they ate from this tree, they would achieve a ‘heroic’ purpose and would be ‘like God.’
The moment mankind ate this fruit the entire universe was affected. Death entered the world, decay began, pain and suffering became a way of life, and the perfect relationship between creation and Creator became severed and marred.
Simply put, sin entered the world. We can all see the effects of it today: genocide, disease, addiction, depression, and death. We look at each of these effects and can feel deep within us that they are unnatural and broken. The worst part? We all contribute to it, because we all have hearts that are inherently bent toward sin.
In response, humanity has attempted throughout history to EARN its way back to this right relationship. By doing enough good, somehow the Creator will welcome us back. We call this attempt religion, and all works-based religions have attempted to earn their way back to God.
But the Bible says the wages of sin is death. We all sin, and because of that the wages we earn is death. This throws off our best ‘religious’ attempts of earning our way to God.
We cannot do enough good to be the hero of our story. But still we need a Hero, one without a nature bent toward sin, so He can pay the penalty that we deserve.
But no human can meet this criterion, so God sent His only son in the flesh, Jesus, to be this hero.
Born as a poor Jewish boy, He lived with grace and truth. He lived a humbled life that sought to serve all. He grew to teach a revolutionary message that humanity cannot save itself. You could imagine this would tick off the religious leaders of His day, and it did.
Ultimately, it led to Jesus being crucified on a cross. He was beaten and bruised to the point that He was unrecognizable as a human, and between two thieves He was brutally hung up on a cross. This was the ultimate death of humiliation, reserved only for the worst of rebels.
While Jesus hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the sin of world. He became the perfect sacrifice. He took on pain and suffering, jealousy and rage, lust and sexual immorality, hatred and apathy. He became all these things because that is what the hero does.
The hero sacrifices himself, and Jesus sacrificed completely. He sacrificed, and the entire time He lovingly thought about us.
But the amazing part is not simply that Jesus died, but that He literally rose from the grave! Jesus is the only man in history to raise Himself from the dead, proving He is God and has conquered sin and death. Without Jesus’ resurrection, we have no hero and no hope. But because He conquered the grave, He is the Hero we all long for and need desperately. We need to submit our lives to this reality.
I have never wanted to be anything but the hero of my story. But I am constantly learning that when I submit to the reality that Jesus is the true Hero, I begin to live more heroically, more passionately, and more adventurously than I ever could without Him.
We have to come to the realization that we cannot save ourselves and accept the fact that Jesus came to be the Hero who can save us and bring us back to a restored relationship with God. With Him we can live a life of adventure, obedience, purpose, love, and freedom from the bondage and enslavement of sin.
And while the struggle against sin and brokenness will wage until our last breaths, we live expecting the greatest hope of all, that one day Jesus will come back to wipe away every trace of pain, sin, and suffering. What a great ending to the story of our past, and what a great beginning to the story of our future!