Too often we daydream and see ourselves as the hero of whatever biblical passage we’re reading. Instead, I think we should first be identifying with the less-than-glorious men and women in Scripture’s narrative. I’ve found this to be enriching in my personal and pastoral life lately. Let me put it this way: when we assume we’re more like the heroes than the villains, we often miss out on the refreshing repentance that comes with seeing where we came from as well as Scripture’s warning against falling away (or back) into unbelief.
When we first see ourselves in the “bad people” in Scripture, we avoid the religious-elitism that (many times unknowingly) views the gospel as a message that’s for everyone else but us. I think this helps us maintain an inward posture of a humble beggar who’s been mercifully spared from punishment, rather than a self-righteous know-it-all who qualifies for God’s favor. I think it causes us to experience the actual reality of the gospel’s grace rather than merely understanding it as a concept.
So next time you’re reading your Bible, first try this: identify with Cain, Esau, Joseph’s brothers, Gideon’s cowardly troops, Israel’s scared army, Saul, Jezebel, Haman, Job’s friends, Nebuchadnezzar, Gomer, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin, Hymenaeus, and Alexander. God could’ve left you in the terrifying spiritual state in which these individuals lived. If you know Christ, He didn’t. But don’t stop there. Go further: even though God’s grace has opened our eyes to the gospel, we still at times fall into the behavior of these “bad people.”
If we’re ever to live lives that resemble our biblical heroes, we should first remember our lives before we met Jesus, lives that resembled Scripture's villains and bad guys. This will cause us to see God’s gospel and Spirit as a gift of undeserving grace, not as an aristocratic heritage of religious privilege, and our own sanctified victories will not puff us up, but humbly remind us that we’re merely redeemed villains and “bad guys” who’ve mercifully encountered the real Hero of the Biblical text.