Writer: Kathryn Pesyna
Big Idea: Our heroes are flawed. Superman has kryptonite, Frodo underestimates the power of the ring, Hulk is always angry. Even in Scripture, the law is imperfect and even heroic leaders like Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samson, Elijah, David, Solomon, no matter how noble, strong or brave, ultimately fail to fulfill the promise of a savior. The heroes in our stories are flawed because we as humans are flawed. Yet, in our current context, we tend to place all of our hope in flawed people, thinking, if only that person, that group, or that ideology were in power, everything would be fixed. Ultimately, that person’s ambition, that group’s dysfunction, or that ideology’s loopholes let us down. In the words of the character Uncle Ben from Spider Man, “With great power comes great responsibility”, but power in the hands of flawed humans often leads to disappointment. However, Scripture points to the promise of Jesus who would take His power, reject all human temptations to leverage power to His own advantage, and empty Himself for the sake of humanity. The story of Scripture is about God repairing our relationship with humanity by partnering with humans, but all of these people ultimately leave us lacking. What if our heroes were prophetic pointers to Jesus who is the only one who can save us?
Key Passages: 1 Samuel 8:1-16:23
All my life, I’ve been a rule-follower. I’ve always done the “right” thing. I’ve always been a “good girl.” One might have called me a goody-two-shoes. Some even today think I adopt a “holier than thou” persona. But the thing is, I like rules. They give me boundaries and a guideline. They were made for a reason, right? This is how one should live!
Think of all the heroes in literature: Beowulf had his sense of hubris. Othello was wracked with jealousy. Captain Ahab was brought down by his maniac sense of revenge. Achilles was overcome by an arrow through his heal. Even our modern-day superheroes have that “one thing” that can bring them down: Superman and his kryptonite, Hulk and his anger, Batman and his loner mentality. The list goes on and on. Everyone has a flaw, a weakness, a downfall.
And since the first humans were on the earth, none of us have strictly chosen to be completely good. We have all chosen to give into the beast within ourselves. We have all chosen what we think is good versus what God says is good. We are all flawed. (Isaiah 53:6)
The great Epic of the Bible starts with the Fall and the promise of a hero, one who will crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15) and redeem humanity back to its perfection. Every character that follows tells a story that answers the question, “Is this the One we’ve been waiting for?” And the answer every time is No. Can you imagine the disappointment?
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samson, Solomon…they all let the beast of sin devour them at some point in their lives (Genesis 4:7). These are our Biblical superheroes! These are the “good” ones, and their stories are not meant for a G-rated audience. Even the greatest hero, King David, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), has a story that needs heavy censorship if you’re going to tell it to your little one at bedtime! (Go ahead, look them up, they’ll make you blush.)
Disappointment. Year after year, generation after generation. The promised hero, unfulfilled. In the words of Paul, “…I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway…I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am!…” (selections from Romans 7:19-24, NLT, emphasis added)
We need a Hero. Who will stamp out the Beast and sit on the throne at the right hand of God? (Daniel 7) Who will take His power, reject all human temptations to leverage power to His own advantage, and empty Himself for the sake of humanity? Is this the One? The One we’ve been waiting for? What if these “almost heroes” are prophetic pointers to Jesus who is the only One who can save us, the Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1), the One whose power is perfected in the very weaknesses I lament (1 Corinthians 12:8)?
Tune in next week…
P.S. Anyone know any contacts at Marvel? I have a hot pitch: Snake Crusher. In theatres Fall 2020. He is not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need.
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2: When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God?
- Would you consider yourself a rule-follower or a rebel? How can each of these be problematic?
- Who are some heroes (fictional or non-) who you admire and why?
- Do you have a story in which something heroic happened to you or in which you yourself were heroic?
Read 1 Samuel 8:1-16:23, and other stories of our Biblical heroes (example: Genesis 12-25, Exodus, Judges 13-16, 1 Kings 1-11)
- How do our biblical heroes exemplify how we are to live?
- In what ways do their flaws point to Jesus?
Read Romans 7:19-24, Galatians 3:19-27 (emphasis verses 27-29), 1 Corinthians 12:8-9, 1 Corinthians 1:11
- How has God redeemed a weakness in your life?
- Describe a time you experienced the freedom of letting go of your imperfections.
- What do you think it means to be “imitators of Christ?”
Prayer: Reflect: Is there a specific flaw God is working on in your life right now? If so, find a partner to hold you accountable this week–you don’t necessarily have to share this with the entire group. If you’re not sure, pray that God would reveal something to you and ways you can overcome it. Share prayer requests and pray for each other.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Praise God that even when our heroes fail us, He is always faithful.