“Bring it on!”

 

There are only a few verses in the Bible that use the term hero, and the title is not always complimentary. Of the few renderings found in the NIV (none in the KJV, and only two in the NKJV) the Hebrew gibbôr is interpreted "mighty men", and the occasion refers mostly to  pompousness or worldly recognition of self. 

The characters we typically think of as Biblical heroes and heroines are never labeled as such. The great King David, Moses, Gideon, Joshua, Paul, Rahab, John the Baptizer, Esther, Daniel and his young friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – these are just a few of whom we most often envision as heroes and heroines. These are the people who looked death – and most often a cruel and painful death – in the face and said 'bring it on, I'll not deny my God'. We do not find that even Jesus is ever referred to as a 'hero'. Certainly in our vernacular He was a Hero.

What makes someone a hero for the faith? I would say it is that person who knowingly and purposefully put his or her life in harm's way in their dedication to glorifying God. I think the two qualifiers are essential for such an identity. First of all they know their actions and their words will offend someone so grievously that they must be quieted by any means, and then with this knowledge they go forward anyway. "Bring it on!"

A wonderful thing about heroes of the faith – be they Biblical or of a later date – is that they were men and women just like you and me. People with aches and pains, people suffering financial burdens, people with up-side-down relationships, people with addictions, all of them – all of us weak – in many ways.

Look at Jonah – what a loser this guy was. Not only did he disobey God when he was called, he ran away. Then when God finally gets Jonah on the right track he reluctantly goes to Nineveh and by his God given message brings the city to salvation. But the concluding chapter of the book relates that Jonah is angry at God for their salvation. What kind of hero is that?? I have wondered why God would have inspired the author of this book to document such a reluctant servant of the Lord.  

I think it is a message to show all of us who read these words that God is declaring that He can use anyone, regardless of their attitude, their self-assessment, or their own personal agenda, to His glory. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that God can bring His message of salvation even through a heretic or false prophet. (Phil. 1:15-18)

Outside the Bible we look at Wilberforce who took on all the courts of England in defense of the abolition of slavery, Bonhoeffer who defied the Third Reich with his message of freedom for the church in Nazi Germany, and Luther who stood up to the Vatican with their religion of salvation by works and monetary installment.

My point in this is to say that you and I are as able and desired by God to serve in His kingdom as was David, Esther, or any other of our favorite Biblical heroes. We have all heard the axiom that God will not bring you to it unless He will bring you through it. Paul tells us that those whom God calls to His work He 'justifies' (Romans 8:29-30).

How would we have the fortitude to strike out for the kingdom of God if all the 'heroic' examples were of unfailing and perfect character? How could I relate to Elijah being such a Godly hero if I did not also see his fear of worldly threats and stating that he would prefer to just lay down in the desert and die than face his adversaries? How might I have the courage today to stand against contemporary morality, knowing my sinfulness, without also knowing that God used people with a sinful and rebelliousness character, much as mine, to glorify Himself.

Can we not see that God, in using our weakness to better His kingdom and proclaim His gospel, proves His might and majesty? If Moses was indeed as depicted by Charleston Heston a strong and mighty man, rather than the weak willed, tongue-tied wimp as scripture chronicles, would God have been glorified or would Moses?

Our Father God uses us only as we are weak in our selves. (1 Cor. 1:27-31). Any strengths we claim is worldly in nature – born of self and not of God. 

One of the most often recurring themes of Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" is submission, surrender, and obedience. It is only as we do these things – submit, surrender, and obey – that we become powerful and productive in God's kingdom. Not my will be done, but thine. Even Jesus recognized as He prepared Himself for Calvary that He too must surrender to God's will and in doing so became the HERO of all time and circumstance.

I thank God today for His wonderful examples of Biblical heroism. Rahab, who had to know that if her secret were to be found out would suffer terribly; Stephen who had no illusions of the horror he faced, and Paul who endured so very many rejections, beatings, stonings, whippings – all for the message of Christ – these heroes/heroines of the Bible have left an indelible image for us – but so many, so very many unnamed more went to their death in the most excruciatingly painful manner rather than surrender their life to anything other than Christ. They were eaten alive by bears, lions, wild dogs and who knows what more. They were covered in tar and set ablaze as torches for the Roman Emperor's entertainment.

Today, as you may read this Christians are standing up for Jesus at their sure peril in China, India, Nigeria, Egypt, and dozens of other countries around us. Some of these are heroes with a capital H; some without the capital are heroes and heroines just the same. 

My present hero is my wife who faces a dark valley that neither she nor I anticipated. But she is sure that God is going to see her through this valley and from and through her faith I am inspired to support her walk through the valley.

Our heroes of the faith don't wear a form-fitting Superman or Wonderwoman suit, they don't wear a white hat, and they don't stand out from the crowd. They are often fearful, in doubt, and failing in their walk with Christ. We are human, we are frail, we are trespassers. But we are also called by God as saints, disciples, and heirs to His kingdom. He says we are His friend and for us He has given His precious and perfect Son, and to lead and guide us He has implanted His Holy Spirit within us. We are God's earthly heroes and heroines if we will only allow His work to be done through us. Surrender and be glorified in His kingdom.

Comments

  1. This was a very touching and moving study.  Sinners we are but great in Gods eyes !  What a love he has for us.   With faith and prayers you and your wife are not alone ! Gods blessings on you both.  We walk thru that valley but have God with us.  As believers we are so Lucky , even that word or words can not sum up the grace of God that he has bestowed on us.  Thank you,

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