Who is your hero? It’s a question you’ve probably been asked before. It’s a common inquiry at job interviews, on Facebook profiles and during getting-to-know-you conversations. The persons we choose to call hero reveal a lot about what we consider to be most important.
Ironically, one of the storylines we find most compelling is the downfall of an individual who once seemed heroic. In the United States, we’ve seen this most notably in the past few weeks in the realm of sport. Last week, cyclist Lance Armstrong publicly confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs for all seven of his Tour de France victories, prompting some to categorize him as the biggest cheater in the history of professional sports. Around the same time, college football standout Manti Te’o was drawn into a media frenzy surrounding “the case of the imaginary girlfriend,” and professional golfer Tiger Woods was eliminated early from his first tournament of the season, making fans wonder whether he’ll ever return to his former success.
And the fall-of-the-hero spectacle extends beyond the domain of athletics. We elevate music stars to a godlike status and then are appalled when they lip-sync. We latch on to political leaders only to find that, at best, they fail to deliver what they promised or, at worst, they end up hurting the people they once sought to help. We even idolize family members and friends, saying “If only he or she would love me more” or “If only my son or daughter could get this job, then I’d be truly happy."
Often, when we read the Old Testament, we’re tempted to think, “How do these fools keep making the same mistakes?” But we are like them in so many ways. Just as the nation of Israel looked to sinful men for deliverance, we cling to our worldly heroes to save us. Indeed, no matter where we look, it seems like a problem as old as humanity itself.
It’s important for us to recognize that looking for heroes is, in one sense, very natural. At the core of who we are, we know that we need someone to rescue us from evil and give us true life. That’s why the vast majority of our narratives – whether books, movies, comics or bedtime stories – center on a hero. We love to see a hero come to the rescue of person or party in distress and successfully deliver them back to life as it was meant to be.
The problem arises when we heap heroism onto someone who can’t carry the load. Ultimately, no man or woman can be what we need him or her to be; Our worldly heroes will crumble under the heavy load, and we’ll be left disappointed and forced to look elsewhere.
But there is one hero who has never let us down and never will: the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world as an undercover hero (Isaiah 53:2-3; John 1:10-11). He rescued us when we had no chance of rescuing ourselves (Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:1-5). He conquered sin and death to give us life, and he delivered us into the Father’s loving hand, where we were meant to be all along (1 Peter 3:18). What a hero we have in Jesus!
Everyday, you and I have a choice: Where will we put our hope? Where will we look for help in time of need? Where will we find our satisfaction, joy and peace? If the answer to any of those questions is someone or something other than Christ Jesus, we’ll eventually be sorely disappointed. True holiness doesn’t involve our becoming more independent and able to take care of ourselves; it means the placing of our entire existence into the hands of the one true hero
(Trip Smith is the web and social media strategist for TWR. From time to time, he’ll blog his reflections on current events and how they connect to biblical truth. Check back for more posts like this one. Post image by Cia Gould)