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?