Jesus is my hero. Here’s one reason I think he should be yours, too.
All good fiction is built on conflict, especially the conflict raging within the characters we empathize with. In the comic world, alter egos and secret identities build dramatic tension for plot lines. They also expose the inner conflict or fatal flaw within the hero. They show us who the character really is… and deep down, who they wish they were.
Bruce Wayne masquerades as Batman.
Peter Parker dons a mask to become Spiderman.
Bruce Banner embraces his rage to become much more—and much less—than his usual self.
Tony Stark confuses his deeply flawed soul with his sport-polished exoskeleton.
My friend Tom reminded me recently that Superman is unique in this regard. Clark Kent is the alter ego, while Superman is the real person. Good observation.
Most, if not all our heroes struggle with being a singular person. They seem to live with an underlying fear: the world couldn’t handle the real person and the public persona coming together. Maybe it’s not just the world, though. Maybe our heroes don’t know how to reconcile their persona with their personhood themselves. All heroes—even the awesome man of steel—live in a state of chronic identity crisis.
In other words, they’re us.
I think that’s why we’re drawn to their stories. We think maybe by watching them swing and bound and pound and blast their way out of trouble, we might learn a thing or two about parsing out our own humanity and greatness. Or how to reconcile the two. But I think we’re ultimately looking in the wrong place, at least for that kind of answer.
Jesus is my hero
Well, for starters, Jesus Christ isn’t fictional.
Second, Jesus radiates the ultimate example of what it means to live as a single person. He is perfect humanity—fully realized, fully alive. He was perfectly at home with himself, as himself. Which is astounding, if you think about it; He was fully God, yet fully man. I struggle merely being a family man and a pastor!
These days we spend most our breath defending the divinity of Christ, and that’s probably a good thing. But in the early church, defending his humanity seemed to be just as critical: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (I John 4:1-3).
When people whittle away little slices of Christ’s deity we’re up in arms, as we should be. But according to this verse, the spirit of antichrist whittles away slices of Christ’s humanity. The goal of this false teaching is twofold: If Jesus’ humanity was only a half-truth, he cannot be the sinless lamb of God that takes away our sins as the new Adam (Romans 5). And second, if Jesus isn’t fully human, he can’t possibly be our example for living because we’ll rightly think, “Well, he could do and say those things because he was God, and I’m not God, so I’m off the hook.”
Jesus being fully human means he lived a sinless—and more, a perfect human life, without cheating. Although he never ceased to be God, Philippians 2 says he willingly emptied himself of his rights as God. As a man, he chose not to know everything, chose to walk from place to place, chose to need sleep, chose to need food and water, chose to be in one place at a time, chose to pray instead of flexing his omnipotence, chose to suffer grief, chose to live the life he calls us to live, chose to bleed and die for our sins—sublimely dependent on his Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.
And he still lived his life and calling as a singular person. Perfectly. Which gives me yet another reason to say, even after drawing inspiration from the cardboard cutouts of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker and Tony Stark and Clark Kent…
Jesus is my Hero.
In fact, everything that truly inspires me about those guys? It just reminds me of Jesus.
What about you?