Jesus is the Hero!
Do you enjoy a good story? What if I said that right now you are part of the most epic story mankind has ever seen? I’m convinced that we were created with an intense inner craving for good stories; to hear them and to be part of them. Stories capture the pathos and pain, the passion and persistence of the human experience. They connect us, move us, and transport us. They remind us who we are and breathe purpose into the narratives of our everyday lives.
Of course every good story has a hero! Sometimes we imagine ourselves the hero of the moment, swooping in to save the day and riding off into the sunset on our white horse (or silver Camero whichever you prefer). And of course the hero always gets the girl (or guy) in the end.
It’s no wonder God’s message to mankind is mostly recorded in narrative form. The Bible is loaded with historical accounts of the painful trials and miraculous triumphs of a people trying to find their way back to God. Our family often refers to the Bible as The Big God Story. God’s Word is really one long epic narrative of His faithfulness to save, heal and restore His children back to Himself.
Walk back in time for a minute with me, back to the beginning… When God’s Big Story opened at the dawn of time. This all-powerful, loving God created us to know and walk with Him in beautiful friendship and surrounded us with a paradise so we could drink deeply of every moment. But instead of responding, we turned our hearts away. We didn’t trust Him in the garden, believing the lie that what He gives isn’t enough; The lie that says in this life you’d better grab for yourself what you can. . And so we did, and then we hid; away from His love that heals, away from His friendship. From that moment until now, we’ve needed a Savior to rescue us from the trap and restore us to our rightful place.
That’s how the story starts. But do you know how it ends? Oh my friend! Use your imagination to picture with me the possibilities of this beautifully epic ending… One day, in a sudden burst of splendor and power, The King’s trumpet will blast across heaven and earth. People everywhere will suddenly sense the trembling and feel the rumbling of the most piercing note ever to resonate through the atmosphere. Our eyes will be captivated, drawn upward to behold the moment the whole earth has been groaning for! There He will be… Our Hero! Shining like the sun! The invincible One, riding a white horse through the clouds in a blaze of glory, charging in to sweep His Bride off her feet. He will be returning to carry her away, riding off into the sunset to live with Him happily ever after… in paradise!
He began this story and He will end it. He has a more epic conclusion planned than even Hollywood could dream up. Can you feel it down in your bones?
He is the Alpha and Omega… the Beginning and the End.
God’s Story is THE story. All other stories are smaller versions of this real-life chronicle of the ages. You can discover echoes of it woven into the fabric of every fairytale and superhero legend ever told. Earth’s greatest storytellers know. Oh, deep down inside we long for the hope this story offers!
This isn’t an ordinary story written by an ordinary author. God’s Story is ALIVE! But as incredible as that is, that may not be the best part. Perhaps the best part is that…
He invites us to be a part of it.
Truly. It’s not a story we watch from the sidelines. It’s a story we live!
And you are invited to live it today. And everyday. Until the Hero comes back for the Grand Finale.
But if we choose to join God’s Story of redemption upon this fallen earth, we will need to know the part we play.
For many thousands of years God’s people were set apart to belong to Him as a treasured part in His Story. They lived the epic tales of plagues and promises, parting of waters in river and sea and provision of water from rocks in the desert. They won impossible battles, overthrew powerful kings, defeated giants, and became famous through out the ancient world. Maybe somewhere in the deep “sense of story” imbedded in their hearts they got a little mixed up about who the Hero really was. They began to think they were the main character of God’s Story. And, honestly, who could blame them? They were at the center of the most incredible exploits known to man! Heaven and earth were moved to take care of them. Of course God was the One at the heart of each miraculous intervention, working out His plan for ALL mankind, but sometimes we can get a bit mixed up about all that. God is not a god we can see with our eyes. Or is He? The book of Acts might help us to reveal Him more fully and to see our part in His Story more clearly…
The Life Journal readings this week walk through the book of Acts. The clash of the characters in God’s Big Story becomes strangely evident in this book, as it captures the birth of the Church. Let’s take a look:
- October 21-24: Job 9-15, Acts 13-20
- October 25: Job 16, Acts 21-23
- October 26: Job 17, Acts 24-26
- October 27: Job 18, Psalms 114, Acts 27-28
In the book of Acts the followers of “The Way” of Jesus Christ began to spread the Good News throughout the world: “Listen! The Hero of the Story of Life has come!” “He has lived and walked among us as a man!” “He’s brought God’s Kingdom right here to earth; right into our very hands!” He held nothing back in order to break the evil power of sin and death that’s held humanity captive for ages. And then in His leaving, He awakened us to know that what we see with our eyes and touch with our hands isn’t all there is. He invited us to look up! He inspired us to remember what we were first created for. He called us to walk again with God in friendship. He showed us The Way.
The first followers of Jesus Christ spent their every breath, and their every day, putting God on display. They had seen God with their own eyes! And they wanted to tell everyone about Him! They now understood that everything in the history of this great story of mankind had been working together to lead to God’s plan of salvation. They saw that all along the Hero of the Story had not been them at all, but God’s own son, the Rescuer!
Sadly, there was one group of people who were less than excited about this news: God’s people. Acts weaves story after story of anger and jealousy tangling together into plots of violence against the followers of Jesus. How did it come to this? Why were they not more excited about the coming of the One they had waited for?
When the healthy pride of belonging to God becomes the hazardous pride of God belonging to us, something gets twisted.
And that’s when God’s people forgot who the Main Character of The Big God Story really was. He’s not a genie in a bottle sent to use his power to help us along our story. He is the Author of Life, the Hero of every story! Perhaps they had come to enjoy a God the world could not see. And, considering that over the last 400 years He had been virtually silent, maybe they had really come to appreciate a God they could “speak” for. With slightly twisted motives, we too might begin to live as though we serve a God who can be manipulated. Subtly replacing ourselves in God’s place as the center of the story is dangerous. But if we could whisper a warning, maybe it would be, “Be careful! He’s not a tame lion you know.”
It is God who is the Famous One. God who is the Powerful One. God who is the Good One. God who is the One in Control. Not us. He doesn’t serve us, we serve Him.
Looking at the book of Acts, whenever a Jesus follower began to share the Good News, they did so by putting God on display. They would recount the Big God Story, placing Jesus in the center as the One Moses and the prophets looked for. Or they would tell their own story of meeting Jesus for themselves. And when God’s people heard this they responded in one of two ways. Either they were curious and interested, or they became jealous and enraged. The point of anger in virtually every account in Acts exploded the moment one of Jesus’ followers reached the part where the Good News was to be for all people. If God was carrying salvation to the Gentiles, then God’s plan was not only centered around one chosen people. It was for all the world!?! Maybe it felt like they were losing, but it was the loss of an illusion. None of us are the center of the universe. Only God is.
In every part of God’s Big Story there are characters who do amazing things. David faced a giant, Daniel a den of lions, Gideon a deadly army. But David and Daniel and Gideon aren’t the main character of those stories. God is. God is the Main Character of the whole Big God Story, and each smaller story within it. It is God who slayed the giant with David’s faith, God who shut the lion’s mouths with Daniel’s trust, God who defeated the enemy with Gideon’s obedience. The Hero of David’s story is God, the Powerful One. The Hero of Daniel’s story is God, The Faithful One. And the Hero of Gideon’s Story is God, the Famous One.
And guess what? The Hero of my story is God, the Forgiving One. Whose the Hero of your story?
What if it’s not that God gets to be a part of our story, but that we get to be a part of His?
What if this life really IS one epic tale of God creating, loving and saving us?!? What does that change?
For me, it has changed everything. Everything. My eyes fill with tears as I try to capture the depth of my commitment to this.
But it can mess with our heads to think that we are not the main characters of our own lives. In this culture of reality TV and social media, it can be a little harder to remember that life doesn’t revolve around us. We know it with our heads, but somewhere in our hearts we wish we didn’t!
In Acts we see that in all the ridiculously miraculous exploits of the early believers, Jesus is the Hero. He’s not even there in the flesh, but every miracle, every message, is delivered in His name and by His authority. And it is the same for us. In His name and authority we can see His love and grace change everything. He can be the hero of our lives too.
I wish I had space left in this already WAY too-long post to step into the shoes of the early Church and walk through all the stories in Acts of those who chose to be part of God’s Story. And we could also journey a short way with those who chose instead to craft other stories, ones that revolved more around themselves. We could see how that worked out too.
Instead, let’s remember this as we go to God’s Word this week: Jesus is the Hero! And He invites us to be a part of His Story everyday. We are living God’s Big Story today here on earth! With God as the Main Character of our lives, we can live with epic faith like David, dauntless trust like Daniel, and risky obedience like Gideon. So let’s go on with our day and put HIM on display!
This blog is taking a journey through the Bible in a year, following the Life Journal reading plan. We will go through the entire Big God Story together. In normal posts (this one isn’t normal!) We reflect on the readings for that week, as we search together for God to reveal Himself in each part of His Story. Would you consider joining us? You can subscribe to get each week’s devotional sent to your inbox (usually on Mondays). I’m still learning this craft as I go, but while I stumble along, maybe we can fall on our knees together in awe of who this God of the Bible really is.
“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.” Psalm 114:8
May you give your life over to God’s plans and purposes on earth to save, heal and restore the people around us who’ve buried their curiosity in Who God really is. May your heart be reawakened to the daily friendship with God you were created for. May your conversations with Him be favored and savored. God bless the desires of your heart. In Jesus, our Hero’s, Name, Amen.