Summary: Find the right people to copy and you will grow upward rather than downward.

How to Find a Hero

Function: The listener will be able to identify healthy people to mimic and avoid those who drag them down.

Some of you will remember times when no one gave a second thought to hitchhiking -- the roads were assumed to be safe. When you walked into a store, no one would scan your bags and tape them shut. Some big deals were sealed with a handshakes instead of a legal contract. If you watched movies, you might hear a few swear words, but only on movies rated adult -- never on a Disney film. Violence in schools was a non-issue. You didn’t have to worry about people suing you. Letting your children walk alone, even in the city, wasn’t considered foolish.

What’s happening? Why the slide? I don’t want to oversimplify things; after all, each generation has its problems. Things were not all roses at any time. But on a basic level, here is, I think, what has been happening.

Many people have lost standards for their lives. Biblical foundations are becoming a distant memory. Now, people see each other as their own standard for right and wrong. The morals just keep slipping downward on the slime of human nature and it’s sucking people down with it.

As humans we’re tempted to mimic downwards. "She gets to watch those movies, why can’t I?" "When he goes fishing, he brings home a couple extra over the limit, what harm is there if I do it?" "My friends share copyrighted music and at the price they’re charging these days, why wouldn’t I?" "People under-report their income all the time. Why should I be the one to let the government waste more of my money?" "Skimpy, skin-tight clothes are in style, I have to wear them."

What happens if there’s no one standing against the downward flow? You get an ugly, directionless, wishy-washy society and miserable people. And you get sucked in and become one of them, if you end up

I. Following Downward

The last days mark the time period between the first and second comings of Jesus. In some ways, it’s not much different than other times, except that the slide will go further and further, until we’re back to the low Noah saw in his day.

[vv 1-5] This is a general description of lives gone berzerk. We’re not going to pull apart each character trait here, but it’s worth looking at the trends -- what does it look like to be trapped in a vortex of evil?

Everything else flows from the first corruption. As people we so easily misplace our love. Some things we shouldn’t love at all. Some things we should love much less. And other things we don’t love enough. We tend to love what other people love instead of taking our cue from God.

Self-love is the starting danger point. To be balanced humans, we need to value ourselves -- God does. But when you give in to self-worship, where you daily fall in love with yourself, you become quite another creature. Self-worth? Yes. Self-worship? No.

A little poem goes, I had a little tea party, this afternoon at three. ’Twas very small, three guests in all, just I, myself and me.

Myself ate up the sandwiches, and I drank up the tea. ’Twas also I who ate the pie, and passed the cake to me.

If the standard for your behaviour is "me, me, me" you’re a prime candidate to become a moral monster. You will not forgive people who hurt you. You will despise people with authority over you. You will not share or be generous. You will criticize, not compliment. You will talk and not listen. You will be conceited. You will push hard to get your way, sometimes even becoming brutal. You will be vicious with those who don’t like you.

You are told this all the time in current media. "Look for life’s answers from within. Believe in yourself. You can do anything if you try. You are your own hero."

If everyone is so good inside, why are so many people so miserable? Why are psychiatrists in higher demand than ever? Why are people drugging themselves and distracting themselves with every form of entertainment?

Another misplaced love is loving money. One insurance adjuster I talked to estimates that 80% of the people he deals with are way too consumed with money. Money has them wrapped around its little finger. All that matters to many people is getting more, or saving what they have, or getting the best deal. They put a dollar value on everything they have and do, including their relationships.

Others love pleasure. Comfort can become the god of all. We organize our time around the least difficult activities, or no activity at all. Our great motto becomes, "If it feels good, do it; If it doesn’t feel good, don’t." We come to hate this word called self-discipline.

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