Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Hero" Redefined

imageVulnerable. Unsure. Lonely. Insecure. Hurting. Hoping. Only a man.

And we had thought he was almost a god, invincible and invulnerable, a superhuman alien, the last son of Krypton. It turns out that the postmodern Superman is only a man is a silly red sheet, dreaming about the man he could be. It's not easy being a hero. I'm alluding to the song "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting.

Behind the legend and the cape, there is suffering. Tom Welling in the TV series Smallville and Brandon Routh in the movie Superman Returns reveal this side of Superman to us (even more so than did Christopher Reeve in the classic Superman movies). This revisioning of Superman really does make sense. My childhood dream of being Superman and being able to defeat every foe and solve every problem and never be hurt and no nothing of this world's pain—well, it could just never be real. For a real hero could not be untouched and uninvolved in this world's suffering.

This new postmodern Superman sacrifices himself, experiences pain, pushes himself and goes through constant trials to be a hero. This is the Superman who struggles and must use every ounce of his ingenuity and strength to save a jet spinning out of control (Superman Returns). What a contrast to the Christopher Reeve - Superman who effortlessly rescued Air Force One by taking the place of its lost engine on the left wing (see my video contrast). All things considered, wouldn't you agree that the struggling and suffering Superman is more true to reality?

Heroes sacrifice themselves, suffer and sometimes die. Didn't we learn this from 9/11? So why does Christian triumphialism still prevail in the church today? Why do we think it odd when we are touched by and involved in this world's suffering? Why do we as Christians believe we should feel no pain and be healed from all disease? Why are we so prone to believe that God should intervene at every turn and save us from harm? Why do we protest when the way is hard and the path uncertain?

Could it be that the kind of heroes God calls us to be are the kind that are vulnerable, unsure, lonely, insecure, hurting and hoping? Could it be that we are to follow the example of our ultimate hero, Jesus?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

They triumphed over him [the Dragon]
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

Related Sermons

How Does God Rescue Us?
This sermon, drawn from the experiences of David in 1 Samuel 19, explores the many different ways, both extraordinary and ordinary, in which God works to rescue David from danger. What can we learn about how God rescues us today?

Hope Endures
When life comes crashing down around us, we need more than a cliché quoting of Romans 8:28. How is it that Christian hope can endure even when life hurts? A deeper understanding of Romans 8:28 as understood by examining Romans 8:18-30 should be of immense help to those of us who are hurting, more than a cliché comfort.

1 comment:

  1. The laws of cause and effect can't be ignored by invoking the power of God. I agree and I would suggest that Jesus rejected that notion when tempted by satan.
    Complete surrender to God and to one's duty sometimes means that failure and pain are unavoidable but how else are we to grow. Pruning the vine is the only way to produce an aboundant crop.



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