I've been dreading this chapter. David has been so great until now.
I learned in college that American Literature invented or greatly expanded the idea of a flawed hero. Previously, heroes, by definition, were "perfect" or ideal characters to whom we should admire and emulate. Greek and Roman adventures and warriors who showed us courage, wit, strength, and valor, even when they were losing, they were still winning.
Then along comes the settling of the American West and cowboys and Indians and bank robbers and somehow, America started to have a soft spot for characters who did some bad things but had the "hooker with a heart of gold" soft spot that, ultimately, led them to do the right thing and save the day.
Now that's how we like our heroes. Not perfect. Approachable. Maybe you would even enjoy getting a beer with one of them. Who wants to have a beer with a larger than life Greek hero. We're the country of throwing off the binds of the monarchy and manifest destiny...we don't abide snooty, perfect heroes.
I am particularly prone to this genre. I love Mitch Rapp, Jack Ryan's darker counterpart, John Clark/Kelly, The Grey Man. Orphan X. If they have a sad childhood story and shoot the bad guys...I'm in.
There is, however, a serious flaw with the flawed hero. I think we love these guys (and sometimes, but rarely women) because we want to believe there is a hero out there who, like the kryptonite-sensitive, love-sick, and vulnerable Superman, will fly in at save the day.
See the problem? We want to be...saved. We know in our hearts that there is evil in this world and that a lot of it is stronger than we are. There are bad men (and sometimes women) who are plotting and scheming to take things from us, to hurt or even kill us, to make us feel helpless. For kids it can be a vague fear of the bogey man; but then we grow up and some people fear the government, others fear big corporations, or certain types of people, some fear diseases, or money-related problems. Some know that all of the evil comes from the enemy of God.
And the truth is...they're all correct to be afraid to one degree or another. All of those things can be very real and very scary, bringing great pain, tragedy, and harm to our lives. So we were correct all along. We. Do. Need. A. Savior.
The problem is...the FLAWED hero is just as big of a myth as the classic. perfect hero. Our longing for a hero is real and should drive us to the only savior that can actual save us. Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis makes the point in several of his books that we can't long for anything that doesn't exist somewhere. And the longing for peace and safety and security and provision and health and happiness is a longing for paradise lost, as we live in this fallen world. Jesus is the way God designed to restore us to what was lost, but it has to be on His terms- through Faith in Him.
That's the real flaw in the flawed hero. The fallen actually cannot save the fallen. And that's what we want. The flawed hero IS approachable. We could buy him a beer after his next big adventure saving the world. But he actually cannot fight the bogey man, or pay the bills, or fight cancer, or any of our personal battles.
And that brings me to David. I kept stalling from starting the chapter and I didn't know why. It's because David has been such a fun hero to read about. A man after God's own heart, slaying his ten thousand, but refusing to slay the man trying to kill him in obedience to God. He's been flawed, but in, relatively minor ways. But now David is about to fall and fall hard taking with him the idolatry I have in my heart for men who can save us without having to kneel our (my) rebellious heart and cry out to the only one who can really save me. Jesus.
Jesus, I'm sorry I'm still on the trail looking for heroes to save me when you already have. You're all I need and all I want and I am so disappointed to find such a rebellious heart every time I turn a corner. I long for the day that my worship of you is incorruptible because of the work you have done for me by suffering and dying on the cross.
The good news is David is an archetype of Jesus in many ways. So I can keep looking for those and waiting for the day of Jesus, crying out to him alone to save me.
And...now I have to go do taxes, so I'm still only on verse one of the chapter. 🙂