Friday, November 5, 2010

Heroes R not Us

Commentary for the Sabbath School Lesson for November 6, 2010

I was just sitting here thinking, about what defines a hero these days. And, of course, the very first thing that happened was I got Bonnie Tyler’s 1984 hit, “Holding Out for a Hero” stuck in my head. The second thing that happened, though, was I started trying to figure out just what makes a person a hero. According to ten students at UC-Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, “Webster's New World Pocket Dictionary defines a hero as a strong, brave person. Students thought that a hero should represent courage, strength, humility, and advancing the greater good.”1

How would you define a hero? It seems like hero can mean a number or different things to as many different people. We often use the term ‘hero’ almost flippantly. If someone brings you a glass of iced water when you’re hot and sweaty, you might say to that person, “You’re my hero.!” The hero in the Bonnie Tyler song is someone to date. We call professional athletes heroes. We even have a game called “Guitar Hero” and it has nothing to do with any kind of heroic action.

So, what do you think? Who could you pick out of a line up, saying, “Now that’s a hero!”? Is being a hero a one-time thing or is it more of a lifetime of touch choices? What would a person need to do to be considered a hero? Who would fit?

Before you answer, let me throw another, seemingly very different definition at you: “A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around.”2 

What do you think? Does that description make our job harder or easier? Let’s look at some folks who are considered to be Bible heroes and see if they fit what we think a hero is.
What about King David; does he fit our picture of a hero? I think almost all of us answer an almost immediate and resounding, “YES!” But once there was a man who out heroed David on every level; his name was Uriah – Uriah the Hittite.

David was behaving in a very un-hero-like way during that time. It was during that whole ugly Bathsheba episode. David was in a downward spiral trying to cover up what should never have happened and what couldn’t be hidden. And Uriah just wouldn’t follow the script.

David still thought he could control the out-come his situation. When he realized Bathsheba was pregnant he had to come up with a way for that baby not to be linked to him. In the days before paternity tests and DNA, David figured all he had to do was make sure Uriah could reasonably be considered the father of the baby. So he called for Uriah to come back from the battle, thinking that Uriah would at least hang out with his own wife for a little while…but he didn’t. He wouldn’t!
“When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.  Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him.  But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house.
“When David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home,’ he asked him, ‘Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?’
“Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’
“Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back. So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next.  At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.” 2 Samuel 11:7-13
Cornered, David gives his master plan one last shot: He gives a note to Uriah to carry to Joab telling Joab to make sure Uriah gets killed in battle. Uriah carries his own death sentence.

I wonder if Uriah ever suspected something weird was going on. Do you think at some point Uriah wondered why David kept insisting he go home to his wife? Do you think he took a little peek at the letter to Joab?’

If Uriah never suspected anything was fishy, is he still a hero?

What makes someone a hero? Knowing he (or she) is walking into a trap and going in anyway? Or living a life that so laced with integrity that being honorable comes as naturally as breathing?

Kevin Miller, a pastor from Wheaton, Illinois gives us an idea:
“In Ephesians 6:14-18, Paul writes: ‘Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.’
“Sadly, there are a lot of Christians who wish Paul had written the following words instead: ‘Lay back and relax, then, with the belt of evasion buckled loosely around your waist, with the breastplate of defensiveness in place, and with your feet fitted with the pluralism that offends no one. In addition to all this, take up the shield of grudges, with which you can hold on tightly to hurts and slights. Take the helmet of entitlement and the bludgeon of the flesh, which is the word of anger. And air what's been done to you on all occasions, with all kinds of criticisms and complaints.’”3

1 The Hero Chronicles,
3 Kevin Miller, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, Illinois

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