Written by Emily Heath
"Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?" - Psalm 52:1
Have you ever wondered whether the authors of biblical books sometimes used sarcasm to get their point across? When I read Psalm 52, I wondered just that. Why else call someone doing something unjust and evil a "mighty hero"?
I’m sitting here thinking about images from the last few days. A bunch of armed protesters surrounded a Mosque in Arizona, mocking and threatening the people going to worship inside.
They think they are heroes, those men with guns. And they think they are brave. And many of them think they are being good Christians. They are proud of what they are doing "on God’s behalf."
These are the sort of people I’ll bet the Psalmist would call "you mighty heroes." It’s pretty easy for grown adults with guns to stand around scaring children trying to go to worship. It’s pretty easy to promote the worst stereotypes you can think of and to willfully reject any nuance whatsoever when it comes to another faith. It’s pretty easy to parade around in fatigues like you are some sort of mighty hero.
They are not heroes. They are boasting of evil, and they are doing the exact opposite of what Christ told us to do to our neighbors.
If you want to look for a real hero, they will rarely be the ones proclaiming themselves as such. And they will never be the ones resorting to arming themselves as unarmed children walk past. Instead, they will be the ones standing beside those being ridiculed. They will be the gentle, kind, and loving souls who stand with those who are afraid. They will be the quiet and outnumbered ones who stand up to a crowd and refuse to act out of their fear.
There are too many "mighty heroes" and too few real heroes. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and you can be a part of the change.
Dear God, when we come across the "mighty heroes" who say they speak for you, help our compassion and kindness say all that our words do not. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.