Guest Post — Daring to be Epic
Just recently the movie “The Avengers” came out and quickly began a dominant box-office run, pulling in over a billion dollars in just a few weeks. The story, epic in its size and scope, revolves around a group of superheroes (flawed of course to add to the drama!) who combat an evil alien brother and his evil alien army. The stakes are high as the entire world hangs in the balance, but aren’t they always? With a superhero movie coming at least once a year, how are these films still able to draw such crowds? Is it all about the excellent CGI and one-liners or do these films reveal something deeply embedded in the human psyche and in human desire? Why do we love epic stories?
So first, what is an epic?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an epic can be a noun or an adjective. The nouns traditionally refer to poetry such as the Iliad or the Odyssey that celebrates heroes, the adjective refers to the quality of heroic action. You can say, that movie is epic, or, that character is acting epic. In short, an epic is about heroes and their great deeds and actions.
It is worth noting that of the top 10 grossing films, half are epic in nature: Avatar, Harry Potter, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Star Wars Episode 1. Why are they so popular?
Let me cut to the chase: we are hard-wired for the stuff of epics. It’s a natural part of who we are. No matter the age, young or old, we love what epics bring to us. We love heroes, heroic deeds, worldwide salvation, and global peace from enemies from within and without. As a Christian, the very best story is the one about how God formed a counsel of action before time, then entered into time to save a world from the sin and rebelliousness within us and the demonic forces from outside of us, and succeeding triumphantly through the most unexpected of means: His own death, only to be found innocent and righteous and thus resurrected to life, never to die again, and ascending up to heaven to establish His kingdom throughout every nation before returning again to lead the world into eternity, for good and ill. Our Hero does not lose, He has no flaws or weaknesses, yet He is still humble and gentle while remaining all-powerful. Whew! If that’s not epic then I don’t know what is! And, we are invited into Jesus’ redemptive work on the entire world, working alongside Jesus. Who could ask for a better epic to be a part of?
Yet our lives don’t always seem so epic
It seems that from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, my life can seem a bit mundane. Yes I have a part in the epic that God is doing through Christ and His church, but I don’t always feel the excitement. The excitement of hearing from God through His Word or praying for the salvation of real people is sometimes sorely lacking in me. At times I can feel that being obedient is frankly a bore, if I’m honest with myself. If Jesus is saving the world and I am a part of it, then why doesn’t my life feel a bit more…epic? Perhaps you know what I mean. Where is the action in our own lives? If we’re hard-wired for epics then why aren’t we living one out in our own lives, playing our part in the great drama of Christ’s redemption of the world?
There are two solutions that people will go to feel that excitement, things in Christ or things outside of Christ. Things outside of Christ, like pornography or video games (and I’m not saying video games are necessarily a sin, though they can be) or even Jackass-level pranks can be exciting. They can give the feeling that what is being done is truly epic, but it is a very small epic. It cannot compare to a true epic because its scope is too small and its effect too little. For the person who is level 80 on WOW, their epic is as small as their computer screen, merely shut it off and the epic is over. These things are imitation epics only.
The other solution is to confess that our own passions for epics are too easily hijacked for lesser imitations and begin working with God on His epic: the salvation of the world. We confess that our passions are too weak for what God has in mind and then begin working with God. We pray, we read His Word, and we act. We act out our part of the epic. Where can you start? Open up God’s word.
Kyle Pash is 22 years old and happily married to his wonderful wife Jessica Pash. Currently they are both teaching English to elementary students in Korea and they are excited for what God has in store for them next.