One real champion!
John A. Braun
I read the comics when I was younger: Superman, Batman, and others too. Now I even confess an addiction to reading Prince Valiant in the Sunday papers. I always want to know how he will vanquish new enemies and return to Camelot victorious, waiting for the next challenge.
Movies have taken things a step farther. New heroes have emerged: Thor, Flash, the Hulk, Spiderman, Captain America, and others with special powers. They seem invincible, but they are not. Superman has always had to worry about kryptonite. But in the fantasy of the superhero they are ageless. Prince Valiant hasn’t grown one grey hair in all the years I’ve been following his adventures.
With special effects the movies make sure that the heroes defeat their enemies even though the enemies are menacingly evil and also have special powers. The world seems to teeter on the brink of tyranny and evil until the final battle or struggle. Then all is back to normal. Peace reigns. Joy fills every heart. We can go on with our lives safe from threats, at least until the next episode or movie.
We cheer for these heroes. The stories of their exploits are distractions that imply that all will turn out in the end. I’ll spend a few dollars for a couple of hours of fantasy that allow me to dream of the ultimate success. Of course, it’s not real, and the solutions offered are only the creation of someone’s imagination and dazzling and exciting special effects.
When I come home, I face the reality of another day, sometimes without realizing two important shortcomings of these distractions. First, they change nothing. Yes, they are only imagination. When the smoke clears and the explosions disappear, everyone is back to the same world with its evil, sorrow, pain, and misery. They simply wait for the next evil to arise. Then another hero—or the same one—must arise to meet the next challenge. Prince Valiant just keeps going on and on, and when they threaten to remove him from the comics a storm of protest arises.
Second, the superheroes are often quite limited. Some disguise themselves as normal humans and cannot confront every problem. They only wait for the worst of the problems. But even then they sometimes need the help of other superheroes to be victorious. And the problems and challenges they face are themselves a distraction from the larger problems we face in this life—death, sorrow, pain, evil. Those problems remain after the credits of every tale.
Now you know where I’m going, I think. It’s Lent, and soon it will be Easter. One real hero emerges from the pages of Scripture—Jesus. He has become like us—actually, one of us, true human—but he is also true God. His mission was to take our place and overcome our worst enemies. He did that. He changed the forever. He changed the world of every sinner from an endless procession of guilt and death to forgiveness and life. He took away sin with his bloody sacrifice and smashed death with his triumphant resurrection. No other hero has come close.
It’s no surprise that so many people spend money to go to the movies as entertainment. But should these distractions and so many others keep anyone from taking the real Hero—this Savior—seriously? Maybe this Hero is dismissed because there are no special effects. Perhaps some would rather be entertained and distracted than forgiven and filled with hope. I’ll go to the movies and read the comics, but I will not forget to honor and worship the one true Champion who is not a fantasy.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016
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