When I was a little girl (yes, that was back in the dark ages before computers and social media and reality TV), heroes were not that hard to find. TV was young, and the characters were good or bad–there was never confusion as to who to cheer for when a fight started. The good guys won because you knew they were the good guys. The heroes of movies were the John Waynes of the silver screen–those men who fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves, those who pursued justice because it was the right thing to do, those who triumphed in the end because they had persevered for the good cause. And if life showed them to be less than they appeared, I always had my dad. He was my hero for so many reasons, but one reason that stands out was his integrity.
He was who he said he was. And he didn’t claim to be someone he wasn’t.
The whole circus surrounding Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace as he admitted on Oprah what many have suspected for years was heartbreaking. He had been weak and deceitful, blatant in his lies, like so many other sports legends that people have so quickly elevated to the status of hero. It wasn’t just that he took performance enhancing drugs. He then lied about it, and as he got away with it, he acted with arrogant pride that demeaned anyone who would even question that he could do anything that despicable.
He was not who he said he was. He claimed to be something he wasn’t. He trashed his integrity as if it were so much excess baggage.
We live in a time where people are hungry for heroes. Life is bleak at so many levels–our economy is crippled by debt, the number of people without jobs is staggering, we’re hamstrung by crime, from identity theft to sexual slavery to crimes of convenience and anger. The American dream has lost its luster. And when everyone, from politicians to pastors, comes up short in the area of integrity, who is someone I can look up to, someone I could encourage others to emulate?
I need a hero.
Not another someone who gets caught up in his own bling. Not another someone who loses sight of the greater human condition because he has it so good. Not another someone who preaches a good line but whose life doesn’t back up his talk. Not another phony who will let me down.
I need to put my hope in Jesus, the One whose hope doesn’t disappoint. The One who loved us so completely, so thoroughly, that He put His own life on the line so we wouldn’t have to. The One who knows we are weak and broken and messy and still saves us by grace. Not because we deserve anything, but because He chose us to love. He is in it for the long haul.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The Lances of the world will come and go. Quickly. But Jesus?
He’s my Hero.