Part of the point of Once and Still is that there is a Greater Story, told by God as the Master Storyteller since the before the world began, and that you are a part of it.
Most of the time we don’t wake up in the morning thinking of our lives as a story, but if we do, one of the first things we all naturally do is to cast ourselves as the Hero. In a way it makes sense—the plot we see always has us in it, and our actions have great consequence to how our particular story goes. Part of being human is wanting to be important, wanting to have some special role to fill. We all want to be the Chosen One, the one the prophesies are about, the one to pull Excalibur out of the stone, the one who will save or change the world somehow.
You want to be the Hero. But you aren’t.
Back in the Garden of Eden, this desire to be the Hero reared its head in the ugliest of ways—humanity wanted to be like God in the same way Satan had wanted to be like God. Because of it, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, were cast out of the garden, and sin became a way of life—or rather, death.
But God, who knows how we were formed, and remembers that we are dust, (Psalm 103:13-14), redeems all things.
He knew we weren’t the Heroes—that there was no way we could possibly save ourselves from Death, Satan, and Sin, in whose dark dungeon we were captives. He had loved us deeply from the beginning, even though He knew how we would betray Him. So He sent the real Hero.
The real Hero, the God-Man, could do what we could not. In His death and returning to life, He defeated our captors and set us free.
We want to save ourselves. To be as powerful, independent, loved, respected, admired, and strong as the Hero, all on our own. We want to be the most important, the long-awaited King. We want to have others cheer for us, and need us. We’re pretty self-centered that way.
But perhaps that part of us that wants to be the Hero isn’t totally off—perhaps its just twisted from the good thing it was meant to be—a desire to be like God in a way that points to Him, instead of replacing Him like Satan wanted and wants us to do.
Why do I think that? Because the title of this blog post isn’t 100% true. In a way it’s completely accurate—we can’t have saved ourselves. But there’s more going on here that makes it complicated—and amazing.
You see, the Hero, this God-Man, didn’t just unlock our chains, lead us out of the dungeon, and leave us with a parting “Have a nice life!” He didn’t just save us because it’s His job as a Hero. He did it because He loves us—so deeply we can’t even begin to understand how much. We are His Beloved. The ones He would die for.
Because of His great love, God sent His Son to do everything He had to to bring us back into a restored relationship with Him, to adopt us as Sons and Daughters alongside the Hero. Now, in our new lives after captivity, because of the real Hero, we get to share His role of Hero in a good way. Now, when God looks at us, that’s who he sees—not only us as the Sons and Daughters we were meant to be, but also Jesus, the real Hero, in whose blood we have been washed, and the Holy Spirit, who lives in us. Now God has redeemed our evil desire to be like God as equals, and teaches us instead to be like God as Sons and Daughters.
We are, as Martin Luther put it, “Little Christs,” sent out into the world to mimic the Hero. As Little Heroes, we are to point to Him with everything we are, to be like God in order to give Him the Glory. We wanted to be the “Chosen Ones,” and in a way, we are. We are the Beloved, loved deeply by a Hero so Great, Moses literally glowed after seeing His back. We are the adopted Sons and Daughters of God, ambassadors of His love, with the Hero in the form of the Holy Spirit acting through us. We may not be the Hero, but we aren’t extras in this Story. There are no extras. We are Chosen, we are Little Heroes, we are the Beloved.
The desire to be the Hero isn’t all bad. It can be twisted and made into a vicious quest for fame or money or some kind of power over others. But it can also be good. We are called to a kind of adventure which requires bravery, and it does involve saving the world—we’re just not the one to save it. We are, however, the Little Heroes sent to be like God to show the world what He’s like, to tell the Story, and to point to the one who wrote it.