Unmasking the Hero

The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot these days. Apparently, there are a lot of them out there according to all forms of media. And like any other word that gets used so easily, the true meaning of that word slowly, but surely becomes diluted. Watered down until its original meaning is almost lost to those not paying attention.

There are heroes everywhere by the new diluted standards.

The football stars are heroes. The baseball stars are heroes. Actors and actresses are heroes. By these new standards, policemen and soldiers are always heroes, simply because they are policemen and soldiers. In the case of the three mentioned formerly, it is only sometimes, but rarely true and even in the case of the two latter, it is not necessarily true simply by virtue of those positions in society.

 The truth is that the original definition of a hero embodies a much higher standard in the history of mankind. The truth is that the original use of the word “hero” was as a noun and was a mythological individual of “divine descent” that did not even exist. In other words, in the original use of the word, the individual was of such high standards that they only existed in someone’s imagination.

Over time, man has invented many such heroes and those characteristics have evolved somewhat. By virtue of that evolution, so too has the definition evolved. 

For me, Spiderman comes to mind. 

When I was a young boy, I considered Spiderman the ultimate hero. He started out as a complete weakling and outcast among his peers. He was a very intelligent, but awkward kid who didn’t fit in. He was picked on and bullied. One day he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The bite changed his body at a molecular level and he was given superhuman strength and agility along with other really cool attributes, like his “spidey sense” that allowed him to sense danger.

It wasn’t long before he had made himself a costume and was swinging into action on his web, fighting the bad guys and saving lives. Behind the mask, Peter Parker was an unassuming hero. He didn’t want to be known as being The Spiderman. He didn’t’ want recognition for what he had done. He simply wanted to be able to help the helpless with the only reward being how it made him feel. He wasn’t in it for the glory; thus, the mask. He certainly wasn’t in it for the riches as he lived in a dumpy, little apartment and rode a bicycle to work.

Now obviously Spiderman is a fictitious character. Even I had to eventually and begrudgingly accept that fact. But what is interesting is the fact that he existed in someone’s mind. There are dozens of such heroes that have been created in the minds of humans. From the mythological Hercules of old, to the more modern heroes like Spiderman, Superman and the like. So, the question is why?

Why is it that humans are constantly looking for heroes? Why is it that humans attribute the superheroes with impossible abilities? Superhuman strength. The ability to fly. To travel at light speed. Fearlessness in the face of great danger. The list goes on, but the one thing that stands out is the fact that the superheroes all have one thing in common. That is that they seem to have everything that real humans don’t! They have strengths and abilities that make them nearly invulnerable as opposed to the extreme vulnerability of humans. They are often bulletproof and if they are not, they are self-healing. In some cases, they are even immortal.

It seems pretty obvious to me that deep down inside, not only do we desire for there to be heroes, many of us want to be like the heroes, to even become a hero. One has to wonder if it isn’t because we were made that way. One has to wonder if the desire to be a hero is imbedded deep within us and put there by a certain someone who made us in His image.

While the use of the word hero has certainly become far too commonplace, it doesn’t change the fact that there are most certainly a lot of heroes on earth today. I would also submit that by a reasonable definition of a hero, there are those that embody attributes of heroism far beyond those of even my childhood favorite, Spiderman. 

The soldier, not bulletproof, who throws himself on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers. The fireman, not self-healing, who goes into a blazing building to save innocent lives, knowing full-well it is about to collapse. A man who dives into a river to save a drowning child even though he cannot swim himself. All examples of people willing to sacrifice regardless of their own vulnerability to great harm. Without obvious reward. Acts of selflessness with the only desire being service to others. These are the attributes of a true hero.

Just this year alone, I have been a witness to multiple acts of heroism. 

I witnessed as a hero swooped in and flew a young girl named Shiroh from Uganda to India and saved her precious, young life. I watched this hero make sacrifices to provide a home for 40 children in India (CCIM) who would have otherwise had no chance at life. All of whom would have suffered greatly in life. Many of whom would have perished at a young age.

I watched as the same hero sacrificed to build new dorms at Safe Home in Liberia. Built a fence to keep the children safe in the school. Remodeled that very same school to accommodate more children who can now receive an education that breaks the cycle of poverty. Built a medical clinic that provides critical care to all of the orphan children who live at Safe Home as well as the entire community!

I watched as this hero provided homes, loving care and shelter to thousands of fatherless children in 9 different countries around the world. I watched as these thousands of orphans were given God’s Word, as the seeds were planted that will lead to a great harvest for our Father in Heaven.

I watched as this hero changed the world, one child at a time. Changing not just the lives of the children they saved, but the minds and hearts of the people in the communities they live in.

You are all collectively this hero. A hero that has sacrificed and asked for nothing in return. A hero that does not seek personal reward, and only seeks to serve the most vulnerable of all of us. A hero that will likely blush and be a bit uncomfortable with me naming you as such.

But collectively you are the body of the greatest hero in history. You carry His Sword on this earth. It is your sacrifices in His name that reflect His will, His compassion and His love in your actions. 

And when the hero is unmasked, when the true identity of the hero is revealed to the children you have saved, each and every one of them see the same thing. Jesus…and His Father who sent Him.