There’s this feeling that we talked about in our training for Brazil (back in July) that you can get when you go on mission trips. Everybody has it, at least a little bit, and it takes a lot of praying, and intentional un-thinking, and a multitude of derogatory comments from spiteful people like Jon Nelson before you can shake it out of your system. (I’m just kidding on that last one; Jon, you’re great. I’d even go so far as to say that I think you’re pretty neat.)
The feeling is like this: Here I am, back pack / suitcase in my hand / on my back, 2 preparatory missions books read, tickets purchased… the time has come. I am going to save the world. And you can look at that and say, “Ridiculous! No one would be so inane,” but I am saying, You would. I would. And we do. It might seem ridiculous to feel that urge, to raise our hands to the sky and shout to the world, “I can save you!” Because it is ridiculous. But so are people. And I think we do this with living, too.
To demonstrate the point, see
a) most Disney movies,
b) bed time stories you were told as a kid,
c) or any good adventure book written for little boys and girls, pretty much EVER. (Which I find, somehow, are still the only ones that really excite me. But, ah well. I am a 7 year old at heart, and a Shaq in approximate longitude.)
We raise our children up to be “world-changers.” We tell them they can do anything. Meanwhile, the cape and tights are holy attire, and the women swoon at the thought of a “knight in shining armor.” Why? (And why tights? I don’t know.) Ours is a hero culture, and I’m betting you can feel that.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Thus spake Uncle Ben, father figure to Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spiderman. (If you haven’t heard of HIM… Shame. Shame, shame.) I remember hearing those words for the first time, back when I was runty and impressionable. Wow. That was… there was a story worth living. Kids, best of all, understand bigness. And they do not question the fact that they will someday be something more than they are already. Some people will tell you that youth is unreservedly, and almost stupidly, optimistic. I agree – but I call it “faith.”
And then I suppose there’s the question, if you take two steps further, as to whether or not you really ought to be a hero anyways, or oughtn’t that be someone more… crucified. I think, as is the case with most human metaphors, you could make a case for or against with equal gravity. Could it be true that “when I am weak, then I am strong,” (II Cor. 2:10) but in that same moment, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”? (II Tim. 1:7) It must be. They’re both in there. :-)
So my own question isn’t so much whether or not, but why, or rather, for whom? Maybe it isn’t possible to save the whole world, but there’s plenty of grannies who could use help carrying the groceries in. The cape and tights may be a stretch (Yikes. No pun intended), but hey, mom could use some help with the laundry. And as a matter of fact, yes – there are damsels in distress out there. (I’m just sayin, gents… Just. Sayin.) And there are real, honest to goodness wars to be fought. That’s something we all need to take seriously. When you, in your mind, put on that cape, and those stretchy pants (as, a famed Mexican wrestler assures us, all men do) – who are you out to impress? Or save? Or, actually, empower?
Say you’re a hero. You might as well – you claimed it pretty early on, and now everyone knows. Who are you a hero for?