Monday, August 1, 2016

Missing the Mark

My daughter’s favorite superhero is Hawkeye. Although, admittedly, she thought his name was Hawkguy until she was seven. She likes his quick wit and skills with a bow. Unlike being bit by a radioactive spider or exposed to gamma radiation, becoming a skilled archer is something she can actually do. I think that’s why she likes him.

Hawkeye is Marvel’s version of Robin Hood or Green Arrow. He’s billed as “the world’s greatest archer” and he prides himself on his accuracy. In Avenging Spider-man #4, Hawkeye and Spidey team up to take down some bad guys. In a candid moment, Hawkeye confesses, “I mean, I can't miss... I'm on a team with super-humans and one god, in case you've forgotten… And if I miss, it means I'm just another dude with a bow. It means I've been fooling myself this whole time. And that's why I never miss.” Ironically, Hawkeye does miss. Later in the issue, in the midst of battle, Hawkeye fires a taser-like electrified arrow at a distant enemy and misses his target. When the battle dies down, Spidey spots the arrow lying on the ground and, out of compassion for Hawkeye, picks it up and tacks it into the already defeated villain. When Hawkeye rounds the corner he celebrates, “I got ‘em! Ha! Nailed it!”

This may come as a surprise, but the Bible talks about archery quite a bit. How, you ask?  Well, there are actual archers in some of the war stories (King Saul met his demise to an arrow in 1 Samuel 31). Ishmael, Abraham’s son with Hagar, was an archer (Genesis 21.20). Esau hunted with a bow and arrow (Genesis 27). And one story involves arrows that are purposely off target (1 Samuel 20). In all, there are over 50 references to archery, bows or arrows in the bible. But even more than that, one interpretation of both the Hebrew and Greek words for “sin” is to miss the mark or to be off target—an archery term.

Imagine a king preparing to go to war. He calls all the archers in front of him, wanting only the best of the best to defend of the kingdom. Thus he demands perfect accuracy. If they miss, they are dismissed—there are no second chances. Unfortunately, even expert archers like Hawkeye miss occasionally.

The same is true for us. All too often, we miss the mark, and thus fall short of God’s standard of perfection. No matter how “good” we try to be, our lives always end up off target. Thankfully, there is one person who never missed the mark—Jesus. He lived the perfect, sinless life that we never could. Just as Spidey gave Hawkeye credit for his victory, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, God gives us credit for his perfect performance. Let’s be thankful and amazed that God through Jesus can forgive our sins, not just once, but every time that we miss the mark!

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