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As we look around the crumbling of so many icons in the world, it can be difficult to clarify those whom we most admire, respect, or hope to emulate. In every arena of life we see evidences of significant erosion in character and integrity. Sadly, it is so commonplace that we might not even notice the latest phone video or headline we see. We also may have chosen to delete, hide, or unfollow persons on social media to avoid commentary about any and all of this that shifts us into even more polarized thinking than might already plague us.
Make no mistake! Christ’s enemy means to divide any and all of us and Christians and the body of Christ are unfortunately not exempt in this.
Perhaps we have mistaken celebrities for heroes. Celebrities used to primarily entertain us on film, TV, stage, radio, and CD’s as well as all manner of sports venues. They made us laugh, cheer, cry and look at ourselves as only performers could. They may still do this, but we also find them regularly operating as pundits on matters of faith, morality, culture, politics, and more, whether or not they are educated or knowledgeable to do so. If we agree with their opinion, we love it. If we do not agree, he or she loses a fan and we tune out and off.
Clarifying the difference between celebrities and heroes is something Kenny Luck took time to identify in his new book, Dangerous Good, and I think it’s worth sharing:
- Celebrities are known for their name being known.
Heroes are known for thinking of someone else.
- Celebrities show it’s possible to be wildly famous.
Heroes show it’s possible to be dangerously good.
- Celebrities make history through visibility.
Heroes make history through noble qualities.
- Time passes and dissolves a person’s celebrity.
Time passes, creates space for hindsight, and reveals true heroes more clearly.
The Bible is an outstanding place to discover a listing of heroes and those who worked outside center stage in seemingly small ways, but made an impact we still recall today.
Although you can find these men and women scattered from Genesis to Revelation, a quick review of Hebrews 11 will give you a review of some of the ones we most often recall. There are others you will not see listed there, but were noteworthy enough to appear on the pages of the Bible.
There was the boy with the lunch who helped to feed 5,000 and the fallen woman at the well who became a missionary who shared about Jesus with everyone she knew after a conversation with Him. They would likely be shocked to see their actions were important enough to appear in this sacred book.
In The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, Aragorn offers wise perspective:
“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”
True heroes (those worth our emulation) have a number of similar qualities. The first of these is that they are willing to be available to do or be what God’s call requires. Their willingness has nothing to do with desiring to be a hero and everything to do with obedience and a deep commitment to the Lord. Along with his or her willingness is the evidence of their selflessness that shows up as they seek to see others around them – their needs, challenges, wounds, and more. They are not so focused on themselves they miss the person or persons right there in front of them.
These heroes also risk stepping out to not only see, but to act. They often shove fear, anxiety, and doubt to the background and as they move forward in obedience gain courage from the One who is able to supply them with all they need for the task. They persevere when others do not. They step forward when others move to the rear.
True heroes also do not concern themselves with receiving credit for what they have been or done. How rare a quality that is in our world today.
Paul speaks of these unwavering heroes in Galatians 6:9 (NIV):
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
James 1:12 (NIV) also speaks on this subject:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Who do we look up to?
Who are the heroes?
He or she is often the person you wouldn’t notice, least expect and would never consider himself or herself a hero.