Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 54; 146, 2 Samuel 3:6-21, Acts 16:6-15, Mark 6:30-46
In recent years one trend among churches and pastors trying to stay relevant is developing a sermon series around a piece of current pop culture. Movie franchises like The Matrix and The Hunger Games, with their philosophical, theological, and social commentary, inspired church posters and promotions bordering on copyright infringement. As we move through the story of David, doesn’t it really lend itself to the Game of Thrones treatment? With their convoluted revenge schemes, magical elements, epic battles to unite a kingdom, and elements of lust and treachery, 1 and 2 Samuel sometimes seem only a dragon away from the high fantasy saga.
One reason for GoT’s popularity is its realistic portrayal of good versus evil. Few if any characters are solidly one or the other, but a mix of both. The heroes have moral flaws, the villains have redeeming traits, and good doesn’t just fail to win the day, it literally goes up in flames We still have a general sense of who the heroes and villains are, but also a sense that could change any time.
David is certainly the hero of his story, but as he approaches his seat on the throne of Israel, he has done terrible things and will do more. Anointed by God he may be, but so were the man he replaced, and the man who replaced him. Heroes – whether Biblical, athletic, financial, or fantastic – are tricky things. Because we admire them so, and often because they are the embodiment of our tribe, we tend to give them a lot of credit and cut them a lot of slack where it is not due. That’s how we end up with tragic situations like the one at Penn State, where its football heroes were so untouchable they were allowed to ruin the lives of young men.
Heroes are fine, but hero-worship … not so much. Whether it’s David, Jon Snow, or Joe Paterno we don’t do ourselves – or them – any favors by overlooking their flaws. Rather than search for excuses to justify their shortcomings, let’s find reasons not to make the same mistakes ourselves.
Comfort: We do have a true hero in the person of Jesus Christ.
Challenge: Be as objective about people you admire as people you mistrust.
Prayer: O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever (Psalm 28:9)
Discussion: Who is one of your heroes, and why?
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