Heroes vs. the Gospel: thoughts by John

Posted on February 21, 2011


There are few things more fun than a project that you have all the time in the world to complete it, all the tools to do it with and an unlimited budget.  Why don’t those projects come around more often? Instead, an hour before quitting time on a Friday two pilots come to talk to me about problems on two separate airplanes that need to fly on Monday.

In my mind, I want to be the guy who flourishes under such constraints and who gets the job done when all the odds are against me. I often joke about wanting to be a superhero; it is not really a joke.  I want to rush in and save people and have them be forever grateful.

I experience an interesting paradox when playing the hero is not all that convenient, or I fear it is beyond my abilities. I want the problem to just go away.  I find I am not really interested in the person who has a need at that moment.  I am often interested in what people might be thinking about me, so I want an easy victory.  It is hard to want be the hero when you are sure to fail.

If I take an honest look at the narrative of history, I am not likely to be remembered.  I am not a child prodigy; I am not really even above average.  I plan on a rather inglorious job, and I am not even prone to the dramatic.

If I look at the narrative of scripture, it is quite narrowly God-focused.  Even if I were to get a ‘central’ role, be a David, a Peter, or a Paul; I am still a bit player.  Christ is the hero.  I am not even an annoying ineffectual sidekick.  I am the one in desperate, helpless need of him.  I am Mary Jane screaming for Spider-Man.  Which is really not all that edifying to my male pride.

The fact that I want to be the hero means that I have reversed the gospel in my heart. I want to work myself in to feeling OK about myself.  I turn to things I can be successful at to restore my sense of value. In essence I am trying to justify myself. I want to feel OK and to think that if I feel that way it is because I am OK; OK with the people around me, OK with God. God did not rescue me because I am able to fix my car, or because I am good at preparing a small group lesson, or fill in the blank of what makes me feel good about me today.  It was not because I was easy to save, nor because it was hard.  He did it because of his own love for me.

What freedom.  I do not need to justify myself by my abilities.  I do not have to be the hero. I am the prisoner set free. What man, on the day of walking out of the darkness of the dungeon into the light of brilliant day regrets that he is not the hero? He is overcome with a joy that is not expressible except by tears and shouts and leaps and dancing.

Posted in: John, musings on life