A lot of us start our day by playing Wordle, but do you know what WORD-will change your life? It is fun to awkwardly joke about how to connect our culture to the story of Jesus. But in reality, it’s not that hard. Christ’s life is often emulated in the stories we share and in our own lives.
I remember learning the literary term “hero’s journey” in my high school freshman English course. We were reading parts of the famous Homer poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, and we used the framing of “hero’s journey” as a means to study the text. In Eric Eichinger’s new book, Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest, this device is used to study God’s Word. The book shows us how to look for patterns of Jesus’ life and work that have echoed through to today’s culture. But what does this look like in our daily lives? What does it look like to live a life knowing that Jesus is the greatest hero of all time, who invites us into His heroics? How do we share this with others? There are aspects of the hero’s journey that are reflected in our own journey with Jesus, and I believe these are areas in which we can learn to share God’s Word with others.
Call to Adventure
The “Call to Adventure” along the hero’s journey is one leg of the quest that we are invited to join Jesus on.
In John 4:28–30, we read an account where a woman begins telling everyone she can about the Messiah, Jesus.
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to Him.
Not only was this woman impacted by what Jesus had said to her but she also was able to share the same experience with others. The fact that He knew all she’d ever done was powerful enough to move people to action.
This is exactly how we are called to share Christ with others. Our conversations about Jesus can move people to action as well! We first hear the life-giving Gospel from someone, and then we are moved to share it with someone else. In Mark 16:15, Jesus calls us to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” This call to spread the story of Jesus is one of adventure. And we don’t do it alone. We have the Holy Spirit with us through it all. I challenge you to think of a time where you spoke the story of Jesus or God’s Word to someone. Pray that you would be led to do the same again!
Challenges and Temptations
God calls us to live a life that is different from those who do not know Him. This is challenging. We are all sinful; we all fall short. Knowing that Jesus has defeated death and paid the price for our mistakes doesn’t excuse us from being challenged by the world. Living life in line with God’s Word is challenging in our sinful landscape.
But we do not have a Messiah who is unable to understand this. Jesus, as fully man and fully God, was tempted and experienced many challenges during His earthly life. He knows how our challenges feel. Despite not being sinful, He knows the pain.
God’s Word acts as a comfort to us during these trials.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
Much like our life with Christ, in the hero’s journey, the challenges and temptations stage is not unexpected. This stage recognizes that these challenges are major. Even though we know that our hope is found in Christ alone, our sin and its consequences have a significant impact on our lives. The way we react to these consequences serves as a way for others to ask how our faith in Jesus impacts our thoughts and feelings.
Most literature on the hero’s journey will tell you that the transformation stage is a moment of hope and rebirth. It is the stage where a character overcomes “the abyss” (a major loss or disaster). It is where the characters are at an all-time low. In Jesus’ life, this was His Passion. In His death, and then resurrection, He triumphed over sin, death, and hell. I think Romans 6:3–4 sums up our connection to Jesus and this stage in the hero’s journey:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
I know that Christ has transformed my life in so many ways. I know that He is continuing to change me. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we receive God’s promises not with just water but with water and the Word. Just like the woman at the well, our transformation can be used to point others to Jesus. Our journey can be used to direct others to Jesus’ heroics. Connecting the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to the familiar hero’s journey is one tool we have to share our faith with others.
See Christ as the perfecter of the hero’s journey in Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest.