Are we involved in anything heroic?
Do you believe, as a church, that we are involved in anything inherently heroic? If you dig at the very essence of what’s regarded as heroic, you will surely see elements of courage, risk, generosity and a willingness to readily sacrifice even one’s own life in the protection or rescue of others.
We all start as rebels and cowards. An ironic aspect of the Christian story is that there is no one among the body of believers who is ever the first hero. Christians throughout the ages undeniably have done some crazy heroic things, but they were always a response to Jesus because none of us start as heroes. Our beginnings, born of Adam, are selfish and shameful. Think of our first parents working feverishly to stitch together the leaves of plants — all pathetically to cover their first awareness of their true condition in sin. Hardly the stuff of heroes, is it?
But then the real Hero came. Jesus is the only Hero in the story of the Bible. I know that may sound radical since so many of the Old Testament narratives tell us of bold deeds done by the Fathers of our faith. (They’re even heralded in Hebrews 11.) But along with their deeds of courage are also their failings and their fears. Abraham lies about Sarah’s true identity. Isaac was a terrible father. Jacob was a liar and schemer. David committed adultery and then murder. And on and on.
But that is why we needed a True Hero. Leaving the perfection of heaven, all of the recognition as God the Son, sacrificing unimaginable privileges and glory, Jesus came and was born of Mary. And then the really heroic works began. He lived willingly, even joyfully (Hebrews 12), in an obscure, low position. He knew poverty and ugliness. He was constantly misunderstood. And then His messianic works began in earnest so that He drew rage from Israel’s leaders even as He began to draw masses of the suffering, lost and even guilty to His side. And all of it crescendoed (ironically) in His greatest shame and suffering. Smeared with our guilt, Jesus was put to death and then rejected by His Father in our place. Crucified, dead and buried, He descended into hell…
Then from there, in realms that we cannot imagine, He crushed Satan’s dominion and broke out of death into resurrection glory!! His cry of “It is finished” now was answered with exultant cries of “He is risen!!”
So if we are now His people, and He said, “Come, follow me,” what does that mean for us? We do not seek to build our record, our lives, our church, or even our church planting network. We seek the LORD and His righteousness, His glory and for His working to build His Kingdom in us and through us.
That also means that the Church (capital C) and Trinity (a church with a little c) exists for God’s mission, NOT for our comfort. If we get pulled into anything heroic, ever, it will start right here. As His people, and as Jesus came to seek and save the lost, we exist for those people who, as of yet, are lost. We exist to build a community of the redeemed, which means people like us, who start as rebels and cowards, can truly grow into people who more and more resemble Jesus and in all of His heroic instincts.
We trust Him to work in us both for our inner transformation and also in keeping with His outward mission. So if involvement in something heroic made you think of being heroic, that’s not it. But if by involvement in something heroic, you see that we trust in His heroic works to save people like us, then you’re catching on. And as we catch on, He is able to work amazingly surprising things into the heart of anyone who trusts in Him.