On Tuesday evening I watched the new Alice in Wonderland with the family. I realized I didn’t remember much of Alice’s story as I watched the movie. Somewhere along the way I realized it was an updates version of the story. Meaning it took place at a later time in her life when she finally made it back to Wonderland after years of being away.
As the story was ending and she was preparing to return to her drab, boring, ordinary life in reality she was offered the chance to stay in Underland by the Hatter. She replied that she needed to get back. I wondered, why? She seemed to hate her life, but wanted to return to it. As I thought this it occurred to me this is a common theme in fairy tales. The hero leaving the fantasy world where they are heroes to return to the real world where they are everday schmoes. Ash did it Army of Darkness. Alice does it here. Wendy in Peter Pan. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (ok that was a dream). Those kids in the Bridge to Terebinthia (or however you spell it). And that dude from the Neverending Story.
What drives us to return home? I wonder if the key to being a hero is much more ordinary than we give it credit for… to be a REAL hero do have to take a Jabberwocky? Or face an army of deadites? Is the Neverending Story closer to being on track when the hero fights the Nothing of apathy or hate (now there’s a movie that goes way deeper than it appears on the surface!).
I don’t care what you think of Superchick, they have at least a couple of songs whose message is unmistakeably in line with Biblical principles. The whole hero discussion draws me to think of their song entitled ‘Hero’. The chorus goes:
Heroes are made when you make a choice…
You could be a hero,
Heroes do what’s right,
You could be a hero,
You might save a life,
You could be a hero, you could join the fight,
For what’s right, for what’s right, for what’s right…
These words remind us that there isn’t anythig magical about being a hero and I think they point to the reason the hero always returns home to the boring, ordinary life they left behind to become the hero in the first place – we all want to make a difference to the people that matter most to us. Our friends and families. Our closest people we know. The people who would need a hero most. Or maybe more selfishly, the people who would know us personally to be the most grateful to us as we rescue them.
Jude 23 calls us to save others snatching them from the fire (of hell), what could be more heroic?!?!? It is certainly applaudable to wantto save someone’s life, but what about their soul? I’ve been reading this book called Oikos, and it discusses the idea of evangelizing the 8-15 people that you come into contact with the most. Changing our worlds, that small group of people we interact with daily/regularly. How about being a hero to them? It might be as heroic as saving them from eternal damnation, at first. That might take us some time. But maybe we can save them from having to struggle through a death of a close one alone. Or having to deal with car trouble alone. Maybe work is over-working them. Maybe their family life is struggling. Maybe they just got fired. Maybe their spouse wants to leave them. Maybe their Kid’s behavior is out of control. Maybe life’s stress is just too much to do alone.
Why can’t we save them from that?
Beginning in Luke 10:25 Jesus gives us 2 lessons on interacting with the people around us. First, he clues us in to the fact that all of humanity is ‘our neighbor’ and deserves to be treated as though they were our close friends. Secondly, he reiterates an idea he expresses elsewhere when he instructs us to care for the physcial needs of those we encounter. Like in the parable of the sheep and goats, followers of Christ are told we need to care for people when their physical world is falling apart around them (clothing them, feeding, visiting them when sick or in prison, etc.)
Is it possible that we have this sense of needing to return to the humdrum lives we live because we know that we are hard-wired to be heroes in a very ordinary sense of the word? When God created man, the intent was to be in constant community with him. Sin entered into the human existence and foiled the perfect plans as humans chose a different outcome. In a world that is striving to be redeemed God calls his followers to attempt to be heroes in order to bring the world back to the way it’s supposed to be.
Everyday I live as a father who teaches my boys about the love God has for us I’m a hero. Everyday I do the little things that put my family’s needs over mine I’m a hero. Everyday I share in the struggle of a friend or family member so their journey isn’t so lonely I’m a hero.
Heroes are made when you make a choice. You could be a hero, you could change a life…