“Remember who you are.”
My dad would say before we ran out of the house as teenagers. Years later I finally started to understand what he meant with those seeds planted and how it began to inform and shape how and why I loved my neighbor. After all, this fits the “golden rule” we heard Jesus recite in the Luke passage from which—in part—Pastor Rich has preached the last couple weeks. Yet, there is a “deeper magic still,” to be learned here (C.S. Lewis. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe). A deeper layer of God’s Truth.
Suits of Armor.
A radio show recently showcased sound bites of a little boy in an elementary school being interviewed. “What would you do to change the world?” The boy answered, “I would give everybody a suit of armor like [Iron Man]… .” When I heard his initial answer I thought—as I still do now,—“What a sentiment from such a ‘knitted together,’ caring young mind full of the kind of supernatural hope for others. This is why we love heroes in our culture, why I love heroes.
Both the fictitiously extraordinary, or more profound the grounded-in-reality-heroes who—aside from the cash-grabbing, marketed disservice of the former’s concept and the publicity of a few that taints the image of the latter—inspire us to be better, even extraordinary. Both seek to save or die trying. Yet they share much more than ideals or the valor that follows.
It all just isn’t enough when it all comes down to it because our heroes share a common flaw—as valiant as even a soldier’s is at many times. A breached and blurred suit failing or seeming impervious skin tearing under a perilous red sun—both falling right through the pages of their own graphic novel. Or, more audacious than the ignorance of the fantastical is the intimacy- and innocence-killing of real-life humanity made in a state of grace by The Creator of the universe Himself—a fall more fantastic. Just maybe our first ideal shouldn’t be to remember who we are but the deeper Truth of a story with God that wasn’t first ours to tell but His. And this changes things because the Hero of the story and all that can come from us is because of and by and for Him.
If we cannot first recognize this then our valor is stolen and strategy flawed like us. Our ideals and efforts fall so very far from the foundation of which our feet should have never departed. The Gospel of John records a moment when Jesus underscored this with, “As I have loved you, so you must love one-another” (Jn 13.34). The Promise pointed to this (Gen. 3 and beyond). The Law after was designed to teach this very Truth to Old and New Testament believers until God the Father sent Christ the Son to be the better version of me, the better sacrifice, the full revelation (Gal. 3, Heb. 7, Heb. 1). God himself is the source that is able to pull us up from fallen and keep us from ending the same way that little boy I mentioned earlier ended his interview. The little boy said, “I would give everybody a suit of armor like [Iron Man]… but I would give myself the biggest… .” To echo Pastor Rich from this past Sunday, don’t be quick to judge this little boy and take nothing away from him. Because he is our neighbor that we’ve made into the “best version of you,” who “listens to his heart,” and “follows his dreams.” The best I can do even if I become motivated to with my neighbor is make another, “best version of me,” whose best alone remains to be seen.
A Deeper Magic Still
It’s time we write a new comic book with a hero that is anything but new and never needed to be. It’s time we took our cues for learning to love our neighbor not from inside you or me but from the great mystery—the very real supernatural Christ who is not only a prime character to follow and attain to but who’s incarnation passes by The Spirit into us as “…the way, the truth and the life…” to impart to our neighbor. This will make us the greatest neighbor He can be. “For greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4.4).