Tuesday, January 23, 2024

There's Nothing Wrong With a Little Hero Worship

Suggested Reading: Psalm 135:13-21

There is an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the Enterprise stumbles upon a ship whose passengers are all dead except for a small boy. The Enterprise's android officer, Lieutenant Commander Data, discovers the boy and soon becomes the object of hero worship. The boy is so impressed with Data and so grateful that the android saved him that he begins to imitate Data. He begins to dress like him and comb his hair like him. When people ask the boy how he is doing, he responds by saying, "All systems are functioning within normal parameters." The boy's fascination with Data would almost be cute if it weren't a response to the boy's tragic loss of his family and friends aboard the doomed ship.

The idea of hero-worship has been around for a long time. Children, have always tried to imitate those people that they think are the bravest and smartest and "coolest." I remember when I was a kid dressing up like Batman and getting on a little banana seat bicycle and "patrolling" the neighborhood because that is what heroes were supposed to do. As we grow up, hero-worship takes on a little more serious dimension. We want to be like a particular leader or businessman and so we read their books and try to develop some of the habits that they have developed. We want to be as good at parenting as our parents (or some other worthy parental role-model) and so we try to do things the way they would have done them. One of the most natural things in the world is emulating someone we admire.

Psalm 135:15-18 reads, "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them" (HCSB). These verses describe the very phenomenon we have already discussed, but from an angle we don't often consider: we become more and more like whatever we worship. The phenomenon is very similar to the idea that we become like the people that we hang out with, except it is amplified and often much more difficult to notice because the things we worship (the focus our primary attention and strength) are often not even living things.

Sometimes, we focus all of our time and attention on money and we soon become cold and hard, caring only about the bottom line and whether or not we can obtain something. Sometimes, we focus on leisure time and relaxation, and we soon become laid back, lazy and unmotivated by anything but enjoying ourselves. Sometimes, we focus on work and then nothing matters to us except being productive and avoiding distractions that could lower productivity, like family or spending time serving and loving people. Sometimes, we focus all of our attention on a particular person and we begin picking up that person's habits and we hear people who care about us worried that we are "losing ourselves."

Whatever we worship, whatever is the focus of our attention and devotion, will shape the people that we become. When God is the focus of our worship, we develop more and more the character of Christ. If our character is developing in other ways, chances are pretty good that we have set something else up as a god in our lives, possibly without even realizing it.

What habits have you seen develop in your life? How has your character evolved recently? Answering those questions will give you a good indication of where your heart is focused. If you don't like what you see, change your focus. Intentionally place your attention and devotion on the God who gave his Son to save you. Keep your mind focused on who God is and what God is doing in the world. The more hero-worship of God that we engage in, the more we become like Christ.

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