We love heroes. We love to have heroes who rise from the ground to fight the enemies of all that is righteous and good. My favorite example of a hero is from an old TV movie that I used to watch. I don’t remember the title, but it was one of those cheesy early 90s made for TV movies that was about a student or a teacher who moved into a high school where there was a drug dealing conspiracy in which the principle was getting rich off the drug dealer in his school and the student, or teacher, or whatever was the only one who could stop him! Most often, the janitor was some sort of ex-special forces superhero who had to teach his amazing martial arts skills to the young hero. (the moral of these was clear, when in trouble, find a janitor.) We love these movies and stories of heroes who show the power of the redeemed human spirit.
Just some observations about our hero’s characteristics. First, there is always a redeemer. Either the hero is the redeemer, or some outside influence (the janitor) is his redemption. I love the image of a janitor being the redeemer. You’ve all seen this cheesy line, but I wonder if you have ever thought of the spiritual reality of a man who is quietly cleaning up trash on this earth while retaining some hidden power. This is the image of our King. He takes the lowest state now, sweeping up refuse. Waiting… waiting for the right time. Occasionally He redeems a warrior for His Kingdom and that warrior rises under his instruction to defeat one of the enemies of righteousness. The hero either starts as the redeemer or becomes the redeemer. This is the call of Christ on the life of all believers. We are to be agents of redemption on this earth. Because we have been loved, we are to love. When we encounter our redeemer, we become his agents. Human nature needs redemption. We are wicked, but we don’t have to stay that way. Christ makes us righteous. (Romans 5-8.) More than that, He gives us a mission, on to the next point…
Second, there is a clear enemy. The hero always has an objective. In the early 90’s that was the drug dealer in the fictional school and the corrupt authorities of this world that needed to be supplanted by goodness and righteousness. For us it’s Abortion, Sex Trafficking, Education, Poverty, Homelessness, Drug Addiction, etc… Place whatever justice issue you want there, lets just aim at all injustice and unrighteousness of mankind, deal!? Good. So the hero stands against these wicked ravings of mankind. It is a clear enemy. More modern hero stories try to complicate the hero’s mission. They propose that the enemy has a justifiable end for what end it wants to see come to fruition. However, in the end, the redeemed hero is not taken in by the ridiculous display of nonsense and he smashes the enemy. In the same way, we as redeemed creations are called to war against wickedness… while we are not THE HERO, we are His agents in this world… until He comes back to get us, then the war ends. (If you’re one of my non-christian friends… I know I sound crazy, sometimes truth does.)
Third, the hero must learn to walk in redemption. In every story the hero undergoes some type of training period. The training is intense and usually done in some secluded area (the basement of the school with the janitor… cause all janitors live in the basement?) Cut to a montage of martial arts and weapons training with the janitor. Only after learning to live as redeemed is the hero able to defeat the enemy. Now, this one is just a little sketchy. The truth is that heroes are made in battle, not in training. Our training is the battle. The redeemer teaches us to fight in the midst of the war. Another of my favorite hero stories is in Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom. At the climatic war scene, the entire army of Saladin is outside the gates ready to charge, and Orlando Bloom and his 50 men are the only knights to protect the city. The priest (a coward in the story), yells at Bloom, “we must escape! we cannot defend Jerusalem without knights!” So Bloom turns and grabs a young squire, makes him kneel, and knights him right there. In a fury of rage, the priest retorts, “does calling a man a knight make him a better fighter!?” Bloom replies without looking up, “yes.” That scene sends shivers down my spine! It’s true! Jesus changes us, gives us a new title and all of a sudden we go from wretched enemy of the cross to warrior for it! II Cor. 5:21- “we become His Righteousness!” You’re given a sword and told to go to war, no more beating around the bush. Now, don’t get me wrong… I believe that Christians should train. Study your Bible, learn from others, find mentors, and the like… but you study in the tent on the battle field. The enemy does not stand far away, you were given a sword and called “Knight,” so go to battle!
Fourth, the hero always gets beat up first and then rises for the victory. The story always seems to go like this: hero rises, hero beat down, hero trains, hero rises again and tares the enemy to pieces. So it is with us… we have to learn to walk in this redeemed power and sometimes it takes some beat downs on us. We become little heroes only when we imitate and walk along side THE HERO.
Fifth, their is always potential for a sequel. So it is for us… constant sequels until the day our King ends it all! Revelation 21 will come sooner than we know. As for now, when in trouble, look for the janitor.