And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:30-31
The problem with heroes is that they are too awesome. Heroes are "up there" where we want to be, which means they aren't down where we are. They're beyond us. Outside us. Better. Higher. And as a result, they are in some ways out of reach.
We don't idolize people who are like us. That would be stupid.
But the irony of this is that at the moment of our greatest weakness - often the weakness that is making us admire this person and want to be more like them - they are often not there for us. Sometimes they just don't understand. How could you get that wrong?
Other times they don't have time for our pathetic weakness because they're just too busy being awesome. You can tag along with me but you better keep up.
And all too often heroes are just downright heartless. Because awesomeness breeds arrogance. I don't hang out with people like you.
Most awesome people will put up with admirers...until it interferes with their awesomeness.
So, as I said before, the problem with heroes is that by definition, you can never be good enough for your hero.
Unless that person is a Love Hero. If you recall, the thing about Jesus that God finds so admirable - and the thing about him that God wants to build in us - is his love. His love for God, his love for us. He believed in God's love enough to perfectly obey God, and that love produced sinlessness. But it wasn't his awesome perfection that ultimately made him the person that is now the hero of our lives. Even Moses realized that no one could ever hope to come close to obeying the Law of God unless they loved God perfectly (Deut 6:5). Perfection is a byproduct of love.
If Jesus were only perfect, and not loving, that would make him as far out of reach as he could possibly be. As God, before taking on flesh, Jesus was already sinless. The problem was that God's awesomeness made him unapproachable by sinners. People still worshipped him, but with fear and trembling that if they slipped up and made a wrong move, they would die in the glory of his perfection and holiness.
But God isn't like most heroes. God actually loves people who aren't awesome, people who aren't like him, people who have nothing to offer him.
That's why he became like us. Not because we are his hero, but because he is ours. A Love Hero.
The passage today tells us that not only did God choose us to follow Christ, to know and worship Christ, he also resolved in his heart of love to make sure that we would attain the awesomeness - the obedience and eventual perfection through suffering - of Christ so that we could be with Christ forever as (get this) brothers (Rom 8:29). In other words, God's love for us is not a momentary concession. (Okay fine, you can come along. But don't screw up.) It's the primary focus of all his awesomeness. Everything that makes him bigger, better, and out of reach - all of that awesomeness he rallies and channels towards making us like himself.
God isn't just "allowing" us to be followers of Christ - we are called, and he is providing for and working towards and whole-heartedly committed to ensuring that his calling ends in glory - that it doesn't fail.
He is such a hero of love that he is doing all that is necessary to share his awesomeness with you for real - as your own. To impute, assign, ascribe it to you. Who else does that?
I think it's great when we have people we admire for various reasons and can learn from and follow - to a point. A teacher who knows more about a subject and can take you under his wing to share his knowledge with you. A friend who seems to have their act together and can be an inspiration and influence in some way. A relative who paid a lot of attention to you when you were little and whose example you really look up to. All of these are heroes, and they all have a place in your life.
But if you were to rank your heroes, the heroic position of Christ would rise above them all. Only he - ONLY HE - has seen the deepest depths of your heart and heard the inner conversations of your private mind and only he he still says, let me be in your life. Follow me and learn from me. I love you. I want to share all that is good about myself with you. To give it to you for your own.
Your hero really loves you. That's something worth living for.
Claim it. I just have one question: do you believe this? That he loves you? Do you feel it, and if so, what difference is it making?