Cowardly Heroes

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 21, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I wrote about legendary heroes and some of the aspects of the journey they take. Then I challenged you to think about what would happen if the hero refuses the call to adventure and will either not take the journey or not complete the journey. This is when the hero becomes what I will call a cowardly hero. Such a person is only a hero because he/she is the protagonist of the story. In some literary circles, such a person could be called an “anti-hero.” In other literary circles, this is when the hero becomes the villain of the story and the genre switches from adventure to horror. Now, horror is not “scare and freak you out.” Horror is similar to the tragedies of Shakespeare, where the protagonist turns darker and darker and it becomes a matter of survival.

In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was the hero because he took the Hero’s Journey and completed it. However in the prequels, we have another hero: Anakin Skywalker. He was supposed to be the legendary hero above all other heroes. Anakin had the opportunity to go where no other Jedi could have gone and he refused. He did not cross the barriers heroes must cross, listen to his wise mentor Obi-Wan, nor did let his old self die to take on the role he was supposed to. As a result, he became the villain, Darth Vader. Let’s look closer into Anakin’s story and see how that applies to us.

Unlike Luke, Anakin’s journey took place over the three prequel films. He was an outsider, born of a virgin, a child with unsurpassable skills, yet held as a slave. He had the dreams of being a legendary pilot and hero, not much different than Luke. His call to adventure came when Qui-Gon Jinn found him and he followed the Jedi Master. Anakin trained for the next ten years but there came a moment of crisis that would force Anakin to make a choice. He went to rescue his mother but just as he got to her, she died in his hands. Anakin had the choice to rise up and be the hero, however, the problem Anakin had is that he never let go of his past. He tried to push through, but his anger towards all whom had wronged him continued to build up.

The critical moment came when Anakin sought to protect Padme from death, and Yoda’s wisdom was for him to let go of her and not to try to retain her. While the Star Wars history is more Buddhist in nature, this advice is actually the same advice Christ gives when he says, “He who keeps his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Anakin’s downfall came when he had to decide between letting Mace Windu arrest Palpatine and save him so he could acquire the ‘power’ to save Padme. Anakin chose to save her and began the journey down the Dark Side. As a result, Anakin not only became a villain, but he lost everything he held dear including everything he tried to keep. Anakin tried going on the journey but he refused to let the slave boy part of him die and become the hero he was supposed to become.

How does this apply to us? As I said last week, every one of us is called to go on the Hero’s Journey with Christ. But not many of us finish the journey. It’s not just the heroes who refuse the call to adventure who become villains, it’s the heroes who fail to complete the journey. Every hero at one point or more is offered a chance to leave the journey. Luke had that chance. Han Solo offered Luke to join him in smuggling instead of facing the Death Star. Luke could have abandoned the journey and if he had, he never would have become the hero he is known as. When we quit on the journey, we are as Jesus described rocky soil or thorny soil. We are also as John describes as those who never were with us to begin with.

The problem Anakin had is that he refused to let go of his past life. He refused to go through the baptism. This is the same for any person who wants to follow Christ but refuses to let go of his selfish ways or refuses to let go of the worldly system he has grown dependent upon. Jesus said flat out he would spit such people out. You can’t have both self and Christ as the same time. Anakin held too strongly to his mother and wife. Jesus said if you put your hand to the plow and look back, then you are not fit for the kingdom. You can’t move forward in Christ and look back to your past life longingly. Are we willing to let go of those we love and leave them in the hands of God? About 8-9 years ago, I was with a mission group at a church in downtown Juarez, Mexico during the height of the drug cartel violence. The pastor there asked the director of our mission organization if he was killed if we would take care of his family. That’s no small request. He did not hold his family so tightly that he could let them go to do what God had told him to do.

A cowardly hero refuses to let go and seeks to control everything in his own power. He will not relinquish control to God Almighty. And here is something else: a cowardly hero will always compromise in some way, shape, or form. Anakin compromised with his romance with Padme. He was never supposed to fall in love. He sought every way he could to twist the laws to favor his situation to get what he desired. He took the command to be compassionate and interpreted it as “love,” so he said he was encouraged to love. He took what he knew to be true, twisted it to justify himself, and made it so he could take the very command against something to suggest it supported that violation.

The compromiser is one who tries to play hero without separating himself from the world or from his old self. I need to make one thing clear: a compromiser is never known for doing anything productive. The good side will reject him. The bad side will support him, but the whole time laughing at him from behind the scenes. Why? He’s advancing the bad side’s cause and doing nothing to advance the good side. The compromiser won’t even be known as a villain in the story, just as a failure for not standing on any ground, though they can become villain the more they turn toward the dark side. If you try to stand on both sides and bring them together in “peace,” you aren’t doing anyone any good. You can be a leader and be a compromiser, but you cannot compromiser and be a hero.

This is the same issue with the “open-minded.” An open-minded person is open to all kinds of different ideas, but they cannot be heroes because they cannot stand on something they believe, because they have to be open to contradictory ideas. A legendary hero picks his ground to stand on and refuses to move from that spot. A cowardly hero refuses to stand his ground.

Which are you? A legendary hero or a cowardly hero? You have been called to the journey. There are two outcomes: you become the hero of your life story, aided by Jesus Christ who is the ultimate hero, or you become the villain of your life story. You carry out the Hero’s Journey to its end and walk and carry out the true Christian life, or you bail out of the Journey and never reach the destination. Something you may want to read after this is The Pilgrim’s Progress. That story actually is quite similar to what this two posts have covered. Are you on the journey, or did you depart from it? I have good news. If you did depart, you can come back to it. Take the Hero’s Journey, but don’t let the world, the devil, or your own selfish flesh turn you into the villain.

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