I’ve always loved a good story. Adventure, drama, romance, and especially an underdog who gains triumph. We all love a good hero. I have a paperweight with this quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” That’s always been an important goal to me. I grew reading about Anne of Green Gables, Sarah Crew, Jo March, Jane Eyre….oh how I wanted to be one of those heroines with a life worth writing about! How I wanted to write something that would last beyond my years on earth.

As I grow older and have been digging deeper in my Bible studies, I’ve learned that we often misinterpret the point of the stories as we view them through our culture of hero-worship. Accustomed to our adventure novels and our epic superhero movies, we approach every reading in search of the hero and the villain. But the Bible is not the same as other stories. We aren’t supposed to come away marveling about how brave David or Esther were, or how humble Moses or Ruth were. They aren’t the heroes of those stories. The hero is GOD – every time. Those stories weren’t recorded because the people in them were incredible or to be emulated. They are meant to tell the story of God and His people. Over and over again, God lavishes abundance on His people, they rebel against Him and reap terrible results, He provides a way of restoration, and the cycle starts again. The people we see in these stories are always deeply flawed –as are we all– and yet He still uses them to accomplish His purposes. A common feature in every one of these stories is that the people are never really the heroes – they are simply vessels who can only succeed with God’s help. God uses deeply flawed people to accomplish great things when they are willing to humble themselves and submit to His will. None of these people were heroes in their own right, they were assistants to the real hero of the story.

Once I started thinking of the Bible in this way, it also helped me to view myself in a more accurate light. It made me realize that I am not the hero of this story, either. I am not here to save the world, or to accomplish “great” things, or to leave some lasting legacy behind. In fact, the only way for me to do anything of true value is for me to humble myself and submit to the will of my Creator. Some people may think this sounds depressing and defeatist, but it is actually so, so freeing. I’m not here to build an empire and save the world; I’m just here to show people the love of Jesus. I’m not here to save them or be their hero, but I can point them to the one who can. What a beautiful thought!

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [were] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to [the point of] death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 

I really like the wording that the NASB translators chose for verse 7. Where the NKJV has translated “made himself of no reputation,” it says, “emptied himself.” What a heartbreakingly beautiful image. He emptied Himself for the sake of us all. Jesus gave us the example of leading through humility and service instead of bluster and ego. He showed us that the best way to make a difference is to put the needs of others over our own needs. It isn’t glamorous, and our lives won’t look like the movies; but the results are so worth it.

Nobody by Casting Crowns feat. Matthew West