Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

We Need Some Heroes

Nov 12, 2007

Heroes are in short supply nowadays. We don’t seem to have a need for them. Or we find them off-putting. Indeed, if anything, we seem to now only worship anti-heroes, those who have gained notoriety and fame for all the wrong reasons. The best we can do is to put on the pedestal the likes of Paris Hilton, Borat, or the latest airheads to appear on Big Brother.

But real heroes seem to be almost an extinct species. Those who are willing to stand up and be counted for that which really matters seem few in number. In an age which puts self at the forefront of every consideration, there are not too many people who are willing to stick their necks out for others, or for some worthy cause. Indeed, few issues seem to demand that we sacrifice our time and energy, let alone our lives.

Believers of course should be of a different variety. But too often even Christians tend to play it safe, and tend to put self ahead of all other concerns. It seems even amongst God’s people it is hard to find a hero who will get involved in the battles of the day. I was reminded of this recently while on an airplane trip.

On a recent east coast to west coast plane flight, I found myself glancing at the movie being offered. The film was the latest in the Die Hard series. Number 47, or something like that. Actually it was number 4. The title was Live Free or Die Hard I believe.

It was a typical Die Hard offering. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is called upon to single-handedly defeat 3.6 million terrorists, rescue his daughter, and save the galaxy. Not bad for a day’s work. I did not pay much attention to it on my long flight, but something did stand out in the middle of the film. McClane was asked by another guy why he did all this stuff: why be a hero with all the risks and pain: why endure all the hardship, the beatings, being shot at, being firebombed, being tortured, seeing his family threatened, his life thrown into chaos, and so on.

His answer was simply: “no one else is doing it”. Somebody has to be a hero, he replied. The job has to get done. This all sounded a bit like a sermon topic to me. (Hey, inspiration has to come from somewhere!) But it does make for a good biblical claim: we desperately need heroes. Indeed, every believer is called to be a hero. We are all called to take on the challenges facing our world, to resist evil and stand up for what is right.

Too often no one is standing up and fighting the good fight. Yet believers are called to be champions, to stand up for righteousness and fight against unrighteousness. We are to fight the good fight on all levels. Of course this will not involve AK47’s and the like, as with John McClane. It is a spiritual battle we are engaged in, but it takes on many forms, be it in the political, social, intellectual or cultural arenas.

But so often believers are few and far between when it comes to the many important battles of the day. Too often we have opted out, or thought that we could leave the job for someone else. We fail to see the urgency of the situation, and the importance of our role in it.

Scripture speaks to this concern as well. Consider a well-known passage from Ezekiel: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) A hero was needed, but none could be found. Sounds pretty much like today.

But, some might protest, I don’t feel like a hero. Well, neither do I. Most of us don’t. But that is beside the point. We may not be big and strong and courageous and well-armed. But that is not what is required of us. All we need to offer is availability. God supplies the rest.

The truth is, we have an example that we are called to follow. Our Lord gave everything for us. He kept nothing behind, and didn’t shrink back from the enormity of the opposition, hatred, violence and evil. He faced it head on, and came out victorious. And we are called to do the same, with his help.

As has been said, too many believers are sitting on the premises instead of standing on the promises. We have a job to do: all of us. Now is not the time to sit back and relax. We will get our eternal rest in due course. But in the mean time, there is much work left to be done. Or as we are told in Joshua 13:1, “there remains yet very much land to be possessed”.

Or as Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37). Yet it is often said that in the church around 90 per cent of the work is being done by 10 per cent of the people. This ought not to be.

Perhaps we need a new vision of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we need a new sense of calling, of anointing, of purpose. Our life on this earth is very short indeed. What are we doing that will have eternal value? As the old hymn put it, “Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last”.

Martyred missionary Jim Elliot rightly said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” We all need to reassess what we are doing as disciples of Jesus. Have we settled for second best? Have we decided to take the easy way out? Have we decided to let someone else carry the load?

Or have we a gripping vision of our crucified Lord who held back nothing on our account? While we can’t take on a zillion terrorists single-handedly as John McClane can, we all can ask God what work is it that we can undertake in his name and in his strength. We do need heroes today. There are not many around. But you and I can be that hero, if we ask God to break our hearts, revive our spirits, and quicken our resolve.

If you and I don’t rise to the challenge, who will?

[1103 words]

4 Responses to We Need Some Heroes

  • Indeed Bill, there are probably a lot of wannabe heroes, like Gideon, who have been hiding in their winepresses for years, allowing the evil around us to grow unchecked. But the enemy is not the obvious one as portrayed in the films, where physical courage is needed. I am sure there is something of Peter in all of us, someone ready to take on all comers and yet totally unmanned by a servant girl who caused him to deny Jesus Christ three times. Perhaps what we fear most is being exposed as hypocrites and also being out of step with those around us. Who goes out their way to be the odd one out. We don’t want to be humiliated in front of others. How many times have we been to meetings, where we have heard something said which we know is contrary to God’s truth and yet have remained sitting on our hands?

    We shrink from being accused of anything that would take away our public mask of respectability and moral uprightness. The devil knows jolly well that we have real sins to confess and which we even hide from ourselves; but the last thing he wants is for those to brought out into the light by way of a voluntary and real repentance. He wants us to keep them their until the time is right for him. Exposure, discredit and scandal is more his line.

    But the enemy knows that morality and truth are very important to the Christian, that we have tender consciences and so he accuses us of all kinds of things. He uses scriptures like Psalm 139 that says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me.” The communists used to do this with getting people to write out confessions about things they had never done. And we become willing accomplices in this game.

    We want to appear to be model citizens but what we have failed to realise is that evolutionary humanism has not only introduced a totally new set of pharisaic, moral rules, called political correctness, where the breaking of the Ten Commandments is immaterial but being accused of being not inclusive, not diverse, not green, not progressive, are the great sins, but that the contents of the words themselves mean precisely the opposite of their original meaning. Whilst the packaging remains the same, the products within have changed. Just because there remains a faint flavour of what “gay“, “tolerant”, “progressive“, “diverse“, “inclusive” “love” used to mean, the new meaning becomes by and large accepted. We don’t want to appear to be intolerant, narrow-minded, uncaring, discriminatory, non- inclusive, bigoted and worst of all….. seen to be inciting hatred of others. And so we conform to the new meaning.

    Now is the time, whilst we have it – and already it is later than we think – of exposing the intolerance of tolerance, the narrow-minded of broadmindedness and the regression of progress, we need above all to show that evolutionary humanistic love is an implacable hatred of God and his laws. The new laws coming into Britain which will make it an offence to be seen to have caused incitement to hatred of homosexuals – even if this means by not giving 100% approval to its promotion – are written in the context of inciting abuse, physical violence and humiliation towards homosexuals. This will carry a maximum prison sentence – for the time being – of seven years. But listen folks, and this is the elephant in the room; the militant, politically active groups like Stonewall are fuelled precisely by physical abuse, sexual violence, bondage, sado- masochism and humiliation. This is what turns them on. They know that we won’t want to be seen anywhere near being accused of hatred and violence, but what they mean and what we mean are two totally different things. We fall for it and remain silent. What a score!

    Ewan my old cobber, I shall be forever grateful for your (warning explicit material but if you think you will be offended you need to Scroll down to the sixth entry: Folsom Street Fair for your diversity training ). This and many other examples:,,2015220,00.html of exposing the real face of homosexuality needs to be broadcast far and wide.

    Let us never forget a real hero in all of this, the un cool, sixty nine year old, bald-headed, bespectacled and rain-coat clad , Mr Harry Hammond.

    David Skinner, UK, or what’s left of it

  • Bill and David Skinner, you are both so right. We sorely need heroes. I love Jepthah. In Oz, I love John Flynn of the inland. I love the early explorers, mostly Christian, like Charles Sturt. I owe a huge debt to that good dentist, Graham MacLennan, who has enabled me to love and appreciate these good early Christian Australians. We have so many to fire our young generation and ourselves with a passion for Jesus and His kingdom who are little or un-known in this land. David, you are so right to expose the violent nastiness of homosexuality – the media love to promote a myth of “long-term, stable, loving monogamous relationships”, but we are then called on to have the guts to expose these lies. Bill, you are a hero of mine. God bless you, all warriors of the Cross and warriors of the Truth.
    Ian Brearley

  • God bless you too Ian and thanks for flagging up Flynn and Sturt; Maybe we should all do some exploring of our own – on these heroes of the past. How often do we nowadays bother to read the biographies of past warriors like Hudson Taylor or Isobel Kuhn and pass them onto our children?

    The battle is really intensifying at the moment around homosexuality. I have no obsession with this and good folks don’t want to talk about it for fear of being accused of being narrow-minded bigots; but like the spark plug in a car, though it is a tiny and peripheral component, just like the apple was with Eve, it is far from being insignificant. If western civilisation looses the battle on sexuality the whole edifice will come down – we lose everything.

    One such heroine of our time is Lisa Nolland who writes a column called Lisa’s Lookout in Anglican Mainstream. She is one of the few people in Britain to be spending nearly every waking moment researching the SORs and naturally gets very depressed. We need to hold these people up in prayer and encourage them.

    I awoke today with 2 Corinthians 10 :3-5 on my mind: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

    Yes, that is our mandate. We should not be coy or defensive about speaking up. In love, we need to expose the works of darkness. Naturally this will mean that we are humiliated and slandered in public, like Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford, but what an honour for the sake of Jesus Christ. A psychological characteristic of homosexuality is precisely to humiliate and be humiliated. Bondage, domination and degrading are part of the sexual excitement. Being publicly humiliated and made to confess is also the tactic of Marxism, which will soon be in your area.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Bill, yes we do need heroes that we can look up to want to emulate.
    I believe the are out there but I ask why don’t we hear about them?
    Well, I believe the media can be largely held responsible.
    In our culture today negativity and gossip sells.
    We do not hear of accomplishments only failures.
    I notice that many achievers do not wish to give interviews because they see incorrect reporting or their words taken out of context.
    The result is that we only get a one sided view from those parties seemingly mistreated.
    Look only at the report about the 4 finalists on ‘Idol” whose only fault was that they attended a church.
    The heroes are there but we do not hear about them after all it might not be PC to report on them as their views might not be in line with the intelligensia.
    Jim Sturla

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