David, Cinderella & The Shawshank Redemption

Quiz Question: What do the following movies have in common?
-The Karate Kid
-The Hunger Games
-The Harry Potter series
-The Shawshank Redemption
-La La Land
-Star Wars
Answer: They all feature the story of an underdog.
If you ever want to see a grown man cry, then show him a movie where a longshot protagonist or a woe begotten football team rises from the ashes and triumphs in the face of daunting challenges and long odds. If you want inspiration, dial up Braveheart as he takes on the British Crown, or Erin Brockovich who fights a corrupt system that is hurting innocent families. If you want to encourage a kid who feels down on their luck, show him the transforming story of the Karate Kid or even the Lion King.
We love these stories. And if you start looking around, you’ll see that Cinderella stories are everywhere. In fact, it’s hard to find a story that doesn’t have a disadvantaged individual seeking to rise-up and succeed. Go ahead. Prove me wrong.
The granddaddy of them all is one of the best-known stories in the Bible. It’s the tale of a small, shepherd boy who agrees to take on the fiercest of all warriors. God’s anointed, David, slays Goliath with what amounts to a child’s weapon. David may be but a lad, but his craftiness helps him to overcome insurmountable odds and his army wins the battle.
What is it about this story that we love so much? Why do underdogs win our hearts so easily?
We are drawn to this theme because it gives us hope to see others overcome adversity. It can be difficult to identify with characters who are superhuman because most of us are keenly aware of our shortcomings and faults. But when we catch a glimpse of someone who is like us succeed amid such disadvantages, we are thrilled by the prospect that we, too, can triumph.
Jesus routinely championed the underdogs of his day. Why do you think the poor, the sick, and the maligned loved him so? Jesus gave these individuals hope. He offered forgiveness, empowered those without pedigree to change the world, and brought redemption to those who couldn’t sink lower in life. Further cementing his legacy for lifting up the cause of the underdog, he cautioned the mighty and privileged to be humble and deferential to others. Heck, Jesus himself becomes an underdog—washing his disciples’ feet and dying at the hands of the powerbrokers of the day--out of love for us. Easter, that is Resurrection Day, is the ultimate rags to riches story. When it comes to good Cinderella stories, it’s hard to beat being dead one minute and raised to life the next.
Our love and affection for the David and Goliath story can give us fuel to be an advocate for the underdogs in our day and age. Beyond my feeble attempt to turn you all into NC State fans, let me invite you to consider who it is in our world who is down on their luck, beat-up and maligned. In each of these Cinderella stories, you’ll find someone who believes in and champions the promise that each of the underdogs has.
Let’s be that person to others, just as Jesus is for us.