Our values determine our heroes. What we believe determines who we look up to. If you value savvy investing, then Warren Buffet might be your hero. If getting wasted on tequila ranks high on your list of values, then Jimmy Buffet might be your hero.
About 50 years ago a couple of missionaries, Don and Carol Richardson, went to live with the Sawi tribe in Western New Guinea, Indonesia. The Sawis were cannibalistic headhunters, so it was a dangerous situation, not to mention the malaria, dysentery and hepatitis. The Sawi language was extremely complex, but over time and with much study, they learned to speak and understand it.
Then Don Richardson began to tell them about Jesus. But the Sawi people viewed Judas, who betrayed Jesus, as the hero of the story. Jesus was the poor guy who got duped. The Sawi put a high value on deceit and treachery, and so it was perfectly natural for them to see Judas as their champion.
Fortunately that’s not the end of the story. After a while, the Richardsons encountered the Sawi custom of the peace child, where in order to stop warfare between rival villages, they would exchange a young child between villages, literally giving their son to an enemy. That was just what Richardson needed. Jesus, he explained to them, was God’s peace child. A number of the Sawi became believers in Jesus.
So who’s the hero of the gospel, Judas or Jesus? It depends on what you value.