Sunday, June 17, 2007

the silver surfer and heroism

I grew up on Marvel comic books in the 70's and 80's. My favorite 3 "heroes" were Daredevil, the Vision, and the Silver Surfer. All were loners, all were missunderstood, all had huge identity issues and all were thankless heroes. I didn't grow up reading the Bible so my ideas of heroism were cut-sliced-pieced together a different way than most Christians. Although, sadly, christianity, particularly Sunday School, in many ways defines even thier own heroes just as poorly.

what do I mean?

In Sunday school, the media as well as comic books and thier movies most heroes are defined by making a great choice in very harrowing circumstances. Moses at the red sea; the soldier who jumps on the grenade; the silver surfer betraying Galactus to save Earth. And yet, while these moments are impressive...they are a shallow view of heroism.

The Bible defines heroism differently if you really look long and hard at it, but offers some some similiar results. The Bible defines heroism as something earned and learned through the development of honor, courage, faith, righteousness, and goodness through the slow plodding path of experience and disciplines; trials and temptations; failures and success.

For example:

David learning to worship alone in the fields and learning to protect the sheep from bears and wolves over years. Sharpening his skill at throwing the well as learning to have the heart of a lion...and the faith of a saint.

Daniel choosing to live differently from those in Captivity around him, and thus maintain holiness-seperateness, and a deep connection to God that allowed him to hear God with unusual clarity.

Samson wasn't much of a hero at all in this light. He was someone who became a hero in many ways only in the last moments of his life when he finally got it right in one outstanding moment.
But Samson never would have had the character and courage to face the sort of path that Jeremiah had. It would have eaten him alive. He wasn't tough enough. Strong and courageous yes, but not tough. He was a compromiser, liar, and fell to temptation over and over again. He just couldn't take the beating, the traps, and the temptress. And if he had gotten the cards Job was dealt he would have curled up in a corner sucking his thumb crying for mommy.

Which is why I like the old Silver Surfer comics by Jack Kirby. The Surfer sacrifices himself to save his home world [a great event...but not very heroic, because it is based upon his selfish love of his girlfriend back there]. However when he comes to Earth and saves it, it is far more selfless. And as the comics unfold he keeps saving Earth even though the people of Earth always seem to missunderstand him and guess wrong about his motivations. But he keeps doing it. In fact in one of the 1st five comics he fight Satan, which is facinating to me in hindsight. The Silver Surfer ends up growing up into a hero...and that my pretty Biblical.

  • How many of us want to be heroes? Many of us if not most.

  • How many of us are willing to sacrifice, face the anvil, experience the pain, and be disciplined enough to become one? Far fewer.
Which is why I suppose there are so few heroes left; and why the TV show Heroes is so wildly popular...we get to cheer on heroes instead of having to be one.
Which always leads me back to the heroism of Christ. The Cross was an event like no other in terms of courage and sacrifice. But it is also the smaller moments which stand out. Saving the woman caught in adultry; saving the grooms parents from humiliation at the wedding feast; touching the woman at the well with His grace; all those little things adding up. Did they also grow Him up?
To be clear. Every major Bible character fails at something. This secures one great truth in the Bible. There is only one true hero, top to bottom, all the time...GOD!
So are my / our little things adding up? Will we be ready when God lights the stage for the big moments of sacrifice or courage? On Fathers day this gives me pause to remember the great responsibility I have as a Father and more. To be heroic, as well as the raise my children to be so.
Secretly I wish I could just be safe, and that I could keep them safe. But I can't, not really. But I can teach them to fight through adversity and the adversary by spending time on thier knees learning obedience. So that when the moment comes, that won't need to get ready, but will smile cooly because they are ready.
Amen God, may it be so.
For your glory, your story, and yours alone.


Anonymous said...

My educational training always runs when reading. Grammar, spelling, structure, ... But today, the grammar/spelling/structure challenged world smacked me. Father's day Fathers' day Fathers day the Father's day. A new perspective. Thanks, man.


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