Who loves a good hero? I definitely do. What about a good Bible hero? For most kids growing up in Sunday School, they learn about these magnificent men and women in the Bible, and are told to be like them. Or they are named after someone in the Bible. But do we really want our kids to be like Jonah – who ran away from God’s command? Or like Samson who just chased prostitutes from the enemy camp? Or like Esther who became queen by her sexual prowess within a harem? (Not that they didn't have their good moments too).
And what’s more, when our hero culture combines with the “be perfect” message of the West (which is now be perfectly yourself – ugh) it means that our kids will try to emulate their Bible heroes, to be like these mighty men (and women) and earn their way to heaven.
The only problem is that no-one can earn their way to heaven (Gal 2:13-15). Actually, that’s not the only problem. You also have the issue of these so-called heroes being sinful wretches themselves. So there’s some bad Bible teaching going on too. But it is all too common, and easy for us to fall into this trap. Seriously, check out what the Beginner’s Bible Children’s Collection Audiobook says about Jacob and his family right from the outset:
Jacob was a good man. He loved God, and God loved him. God blessed Jacob with 12 sons. They were all good men.
What?! They were not all good men. In fact at the start of the story of Joseph, they are all quite terrible men. The best of them is probably Jospeh – who is an arrogant little turd-burger. And then Reuben does try to save Joseph from death, but that’s only so his dad will think he’s great (after sleeping with his dad’s concubine (and what was Jacob doing with a concubine anyway?)). They are not god men! While I am a fan of the Beginner’s Bible, the beginning of this audiobook sets our kids up expecting to hear what goodness looks like. To listen out for how to be a good person like Jacob and his sons. But as Jesus says,
“No one is good—except God alone.“
While there are some genuinely good examples in the Bible, it is so often not the case. And especially in Genesis, Judges.. well most places actually! So we need to start doing our kids a favour and help them see that our heroes in the Bible are only heroes because they turn to the Saviour for rescue. They are bad dudes who need salvation. Just like Mummy and Daddy. And just like them – our kids that is. So look out for more posts on the bad boys of the Bible, where I will take a look at different characters in the Bible (who we often think of as heroes), point out their flaws and help us to show our kids that just like this character needs Jesus, so do we.