Saturday, July 10, 2010

Remember, You're Not the Hero

One of the problems with American Theology in general is that it is egocentric - it tends to focus on the me. Granted, this is true anywhere, but in America we get a double portion of this spirit it seems. We too often think that we are the hero of the story. When we were little, we all wanted to be the hero, the adventurer, the great explorer. As Hans Gruber points out in Die Hard, John McClaine is "Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?" Or even Roy Rogers. Think of how you played when you were little - who did you want to be?

The rub comes in here: In theology, we are not the hero, we're not even the sidekick - we are the damsel in distress. We are the ones who are helpless, and silly. Moreover, we are even ugly orphaned damsels, so there is absolutely no benefit to anyone who would rescue us, nothing in us that would demand it.

We get this. "Without any merit or worth in me". But let's not apply this to just theology, but let's apply it to action. How often will we Lutherans say this (or something along these lines, another analogy), but then become egocentric.

Are you a pastor? Have you thought that YOU will fix the congregation?
Are you a hearer? Have you thought that YOU will win your neighbor for Jesus?
Are you a delegate? Have you thought that YOU will fix the Synod?
Are you a candidate? Have you thought that YOU will fix the Synod?

We forget that it is Christ who does this. We know that when it comes to Justification He's the hero and we are the damsel -- it's just that sometimes when it comes to sanctification and Christian living - He's still the hero. At best we're the bumbling deputy whom He sends out to do stuff (and some how picks up the pieces after).

In all things - consider whether or not you are putting the focus on your action, or whether or not the focus is on Christ who acts. It is not you who lives, it is Christ who lives within you. And the wonder is this - despite what we were raised to believe, in spite of all the things our teachers taught us about how we could do whatever we want - knowing and understanding that we decrease and He increases, that we are His Workmanship and that we simply walk around in His good works that He gives to us - this is the most freeing, liberating, and comforting doctrine.

Even when it comes to sanctification, what "I" do - I'm still not the hero - Christ is.

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