November 9, 2016 | by: Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: Theology
I confess that I’m guilty of hero worship. No, I don’t mean that loaf of Italian bread cut lengthwise and stuffed with meat and all those veggie munchies. Although, I’ve probably come close to bowing down to one in the sanctuary of Jersey Mike’s. Let’s face it, when you get one scrupulously well-made it’s easy to get lost in a hoagie fantasy as you grind the sub into chewable sub-morsels and revel in the experience.
No. I’m talking about living persons. I had mine on the T.V. screen when I was a youngin’ and they both sported leotards, go figure: Superman and especially the Lone Ranger. Then I “matured” in my life’s journey and my heroes became Mickey Mantle, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rocky Balboa…There was also the full range of political figures that might bring economic equality and social justice “reform”. And then there were the philosophers and scientists, from the atheists, the Jean-Paul Sartre's of the world, to the theists such as Albert Einstein.
You might protest my placing the Lone Ranger in the same bag of heroes as Albert Einstein. But there’s no accounting for emulating anyone for offering what they might to fulfill a longing for order and understanding. As an adult, Einstein offered an explanation of the order in the “apparent” chaos of the cosmos—it’s not irrational after all! Okay, thank you, I appreciate that. However, when I was a boy the masked man was the one who brought order back to the chaos. He set things right. I was comforted. There was someone to protect me from the perils of a menacing world.
So, that guy in the leotards was a larger hero for me than any Einstein could ever be. With incremental sadness the years taught my heart that Kemosabe had to be retired for someone real. But who was that to be in the actual world where heroes come to be seen as imperfect substitutes for that masked man with no name who I wanted to thank?
Oh, and let’s not forget the narratives that we create in which we ourselves are the heroes; often with God being in a supporting role. Christian or non-, the attraction to dabble in so called “method-acting” is always there; speaking to us to self-affirm, to dig deep and discover what role is best played out—to discover who we are. I’ve done it. The problem was that when the methods didn’t pan out and my self-hero took off his mask and leotards I saw him for who he really was as well. Ugh! No heroes to worship; not even myself. Unsatisfying. Until the real hero appeared in spite of myself.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hero as, "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field".
Well, that’s a suitable non-theological definition, as far as it goes. One that echoes God’s hero-definition by His self-revelation in the Bible. The first part certainly captures Jesus’s character and actions on behalf of those who have come to personally know the living God. Yet, the notion that needs to be edited out is “risked” in that Jesus didn’t need any “risk management.” Rather, He gave up his life willingly by the Father’s foreordained purpose. As Peter proclaimed, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23, NIV)
Turning to the second part, if it’s theologically applied, it makes me grin by dint of its understatement. And that’s because for the Christian, Jesus is, indeed, noted for a “special achievement in a particular field.” That field is the salvation of world; people who are His and the physical earth itself. By an act of grace and mercy generated by pure, unconditional love, Jesus achieves what the Father has asked Him to do: save sinners and make them followers of the one and only God who has forever ever existed and will never stop existing. (Deut. 4:35, 39; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa. 44:8; Isa. 45:5, 6,14, 18, 22; Isa. 46:9; Joel 2:27; Mark 12:32; Acts 4:12)
Author Donald Miller says it well of the Christian and his or her hero worship, “I think, in the grand epic, Jesus is the hero of our stories. And our stories, as they were, are subplots in a grand epic and our job is not to be the hero of any story. Our job is to be a saint in a story that he is telling.”
In those terms, Jesus is my hero and I worship Him as such.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV)
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.