Fallen Heroes

Everybody loves a hero and the ultimate hero of all is Jesus Christ

By Robert Berendt

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A hero is someone we admire and respect. One who has committed an act of bravery, saved a life or put himself in harm’s way for the sake of others. When we have a hero in our lives, it strengthens us all. We also use the term “hero” in reference to those we admire who may have a special gift or talent that makes them outstanding. We seek their autographs and are delighted to be in their presence. We speak of them with great respect. Some people virtually make them into an idol an we are often generous in leaving some room for human error and fault…in those we admire as heroes. Children look at heroes in awe and parents encourage their children to be like them.

In our society, sports figures can almost reach the status of divine in some people’s minds. Our media puts such a spin on a person that we believe that he or she is truly special. Thousands of people flock to see them and children seek their autographs. They can be a great source of encouragement to others. Some visit children’s hospitals and do a great deal of good. Others sponsor a charity and let their name and reputation be used for good things. Our media raises them higher and higher.

Occasionally, those who are falsely placed into the role of a hero,  fall, and they fall hard, which hurts many people. When these famous figures have their flaws exposed, they are not fallen in the sense of having died like a soldier, but in the sense that all of their ugly faults are revealed.

People would like to remove their personal lives from the public image they project, but in almost all endeavors, it is our personal life that buoys and supports the effort we are able to put forth to be somebody special. Many of the exceptional accomplishments we see require a confidence of mind – a certainty, calmness and good feeling about ones self. That can be falsely built up by media coverage. A special person can begin to believe they are more than just special. They can begin to believe that laws do not apply to them. Humans struggle with an ego problem when adulation is profuse.

Even heroic kings are not exempt from falls

That was the case in the life of King Saul, King David and King Solomon as described in the Bible. These men were idolized by many, had gifts and talents, plus they were blessed by God – until they turned away from God and thought everything they had accomplished was done by their own strength and ability. Samuel told King Saul: “When you were small in your own eyes…” (I Sam.15:17). Saul forgot the source of his ability. King David broke the commandments against adultery and murder and had a great fall (I Kings 16). King Solomon was the one who was allowed to build the first great temple in Jerusalem and fell to the charms of pagan wives who corrupted everything he did (I Kings 11:3). His fall caused Israel to be broken asunder.

When heroes like this fall some will look away and say “they are just human” – wrong! None of us have lived like that. A famous sports figure who has fallen was promoted as a clean and decent family man. He has been shown to have had wild sex before and after marriage. Lies, deceit, false and phony promises, shameless words and deeds were included in the world he lived in. False heroes are disrespectful of those who idolize them. Dishonest, immoral, greedy, arrogant, but dressed up to be “me”. They may present a clean outer image, so average people will pay big bucks just for the chance to watch them perform. Television advertisements and company logo’s depict someone worthy of adulation – and then suddenly, when exposed, their world crashes down. With that crash, fall many idealistic thoughts of those who look up to them as heroes. No – we are all human, but very few of us live by those standards. 

Who gets hurt? Children, parents, friends and relatives, a wife, family and our whole society. Why?Because it is within our society that their status is achieved. At a time in history when Christian values are crumbling and financial woes are great – we need honest leaders, those who understand the real help they can give to their nation at a time like this, but our heroes seem to be few and far between. The true heroes we may have, are often hidden by those who have wrongly been given the status of a hero by society.

Abraham Lincoln was said to be one of the most honest of men to ever live in the White House. His life seems to epitomize the life of one who has been respected as a true hero long after his death. When the train carrying his body went through the countryside before his burial, people lined the stations and sides of the railroad out of respect for this man. They stood in silence with heads bowed in deep respect for a hero who gave them something to hope for – something to believe in – something to strive for. “Honest Abe” really was honest. Jack Kennedy once said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”    

There is an interesting story we learned as children. It began:” Humpty Dumpty…”I am sure you know the rest. When a legend or a living hero falls, getting up again is almost impossible. Regaining a former image comes hard and chances are slim that the former popularity will return. The damage of such a fall is mental more than physical. High caliber sports is a mind game as well as a physical game. It requires steady nerves, self-confidence and the ability to concentrate in spite of distractions. Will children and people continue to line up for his autograph? Will pretty blondes eagerly seek his attention? When heroes fall from principles and that elusive definition of good, decent and wholesome – they hurt a lot of people and they hurt themselves. Looking into the mirror brings a loathing which eats away at the self. King David expressed this clearly (Psalm 51).

Jesus Christ never fell. There was nothing false or contrived about Him. He was a hero in the true sense of the word. Trustworthy to always do what is right, steady and unchanging in character (Heb. 13:8). We have had a number of quite marvelous heroes in the history of mankind. Parents have often filled this role for their children. It might be said that Jesus “fell” as soldiers fall – and the term “fallen heroes” which is used for the military applies to Him in many ways.  He never fell morally, though. Losing one’s reputation is a great loss. A good name is something to treasure (Eccl.7:1). All of us are heroes to someone. Understanding the importance of that role can be an impetus for greater effort and understanding of the responsibility. The world needs heroes – be one.



About Lorelei Nettles

Lorelei was born in Minnesota. She met and married husband Robert in 1982. They have one son, Roger and now live in Arizona. She has always enjoyed writing and has written for online blogs, as a ghostwriter, and for her church for many years.
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