I admit it: I want to be a hero. I love the sense of smug self-satisfaction I get after successfully leaping out of bed before 7am. I love anything that marks me apart from the rest of humanity and helps me feel like I might be special after all.
The trouble is, in lots of ways, I’m pretty mediocre. I’m downright average. In fact, in some departments I’m full on sub-standard – just ask my physiotherapist about my weak knees! One of the things that going to university in Cambridge does to you is that it quickly shatters any illusions you may have had about being exceptionally clever or talented – every day you’re bumping into people a hundred times smarter than you, and they almost certainly play the piano like a pro too. God makes each one of us differently with a unique set of gifts, and the simple fact is that some of us get a fuller measure than others. We may be equal in dignity, but that doesn’t mean we all stand the same chance of being hired by NASA to help send a rocket ship to Mars.
One of my common responses to my own limitations is to seek to live vicariously through other exceptional individuals. I think that’s what lies behind my choice of blog subscriptions: many belong to obscure software developers toiling away in unglamorous roles, but boy do they get stuff done. These guys know how to code! And maybe they’re hot on the accordion too just for kicks. I’m almost certain that’s why I follow Apple’s every move with such baited breath: it’s pure and simple hero worship, basking in the glory of geniuses who consistently manage to design things people want to own.
Thing is, my desire to be a hero brings me into conflict with the God who made me. I want his job, wanting people to worship me and recognise how special I am. There’s only room enough in this universe for one Supreme Being, and that makes me God’s enemy. That’s why this week I’m loving Romans 5:8-10:
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son”
It turns out I’m not a hero, I’m a sinner. But it also turns out that I don’t need to be a hero to find value and worth – Jesus is a hero in my place. Without doing anything to deserve it or earn it, whilst I was still God’s enemy, Jesus died to rescue me. I don’t need to stress about not being a hero, or try desperately to prove to myself that I am – he’s already accepted me by dying for me. No striving necessary, only simple, humble trust.
That’s why I’m starting to write this new series of blog posts, 52 reasons why Jesus is my hero: to help myself recognise just how much of a hero Jesus really is, and to try to turn my gaze away from myself.