“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Whether it is leaping a tall building in a single bound or hitting the game-winning shot, we all have dreams about being the hero. Even before Superman hit comics in 1938, there were people like Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger, Zorro. Go back even further to 800 B.C., and you have stories like Beowulf and Homer’s fabled heroes Achilles and Odysseus. In the next three months we will have three new superhero movies hit the big screen, (Captain Marvel, Shazam!, Avengers: End Game) and five more coming out by the end of the year. Marvel Studios has taken our love and desire to be heroes to a whole new level making over $17 billion bringing heroes to life on the big screen. So what is it about heroes that draw our attention? Is it their superpowers? Overcoming great odds? Maybe it is saving the day? Or is it something more?
When I was a kid growing up playing both football and baseball, one of my heroes was Bo Jackson. I had everything Bo, from baseball cards to football cards, to posters on every wall, and I still have them. Bo could do anything…there were even Nike ads that confirmed it. I mean Bo knew not only baseball and football but racing, polo, basketball, golf, surfing, track, soccer, and even hockey. Bo wasn’t a superhero per se, but Nike liked to portray him that way. In fact, in the ’80s there was even a cartoon where Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson were, in fact, superheroes with superpowers that saved the day.
Often heroes are people we look up to but know there is no way we could ever be like them. The same is often true when we read the Bible. We hear stories of Noah and the Ark, Moses freeing God’s people from Egypt, the mighty Sampson. We hear the stories of Mary, the mother of Jesus, faithfulness, how Peter, Andrew, James, and John left everything to follow Jesus, and even Paul who was persecuted for his beliefs in Jesus and we think they are extraordinary people and we can never be like that. However, what if we could?
In one of Marvel’s movies a Mutant named Colossus talks about being a hero, he says:
COLOSSUS: Four or five moments. That's all it takes.
COLOSSUS: Be a hero. Everyone thinks it's a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you're offered a choice, to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend, spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away.
What if it is really that simple. Four or five moments. What if Peter had been too busy the day that Jesus walked by and turned his request down. Moses literally tried to talk his way out of doing what God wanted him to do, but to no avail. If we only have four or five moments that will help shape who we are, how people will remember us, we have to make those moments count.
Today marks the beginning of Lent, our journey towards the cross. For the next six and a half weeks I encourage you not to give something up for Lent but take something on. Do something that will make an impact in the lives of those around you. At least until we get to Easter, I encourage you to do something every day, that will make someone else’s life better or easier. Lent is not supposed to be a time about us, but a time we think about Jesus, what better way to prepare for Easter than spending the time leading up to it showing sacrificial love for someone else.