What is the definition of a hero? Does it apply to anyone who, in a trying situation, shows courage and compassion according to Jesus' principles? (The song "We Need a Little Love", by Tina Belcher and Tammy Belcher Underwood, eloquently expresses the need to raise Jesus' name like a flag and to take a stand under His banner.)(1)
It is fitting and proper to honor our soldiers, rescue workers, and those who gave their lives to help others, as we realize that courageous deeds deserve our full applause and admiration, expressed through the giving of medals and in any other way we can honor them. Indeed, all those who have gone before us, who have fought and lived for God's values, leave us, their spiritual descendants, a legacy to carry on.
Jesus, Our Ultimate Hero
Whether we realize it or not, Christians are engaged in a war in this world, and our lifetimes are tours of duty. How we perform our service and fulfill our potential reveals whether or not we are worthy members of God's group of freedom fighters--the "great ones" in God's Book of Life.
So, we should applaud those who perform courageous deeds, no matter on what scale, even in a quiet arena, but acts that require bravery, nonetheless. We recall the many persons who performed even small deeds at great personal cost, or large deeds that went unrecognized, and realize that the commission of acts of generosity or compassion made them heroes as much as did more prominent feats. So often, we don't realize that courage is sometimes performed out of sight--sometimes out of the memory--of the rest of us. Standing up for what's right in even the smallest deed--the one most people never see--is glory to Jesus, as He wants us to know.
To Jesus, victory was indeed glory, but not in the way most people think. The rightness of His cause never showed up in a public opinion poll. Yet to Him, crucifixion was glory because it nailed death's coffin shut, which was death's defeat. Jesus knew how to win--and He did so, again and again. Every tomorrow between then and now is another transformed day in His story--a history forever magnified beyond space and time to expand into eternity.
The bravest act in history received no medal from humanity. But God awarded a medal to His Victor: the universe that God the Father bestowed upon His courageous Son for conspicuous bravery in action, on a cross, during the war between God and Satan. To win the victory, the hero let Himself be taken prisoner in order to infiltrate the enemy camp. He laid down His life for His friends--what He told us was the highest act of honor anyone could do. To Him, honor was a code to live by--to be honorable in all of one's deeds, throughout one's life. He calls us to the highest standard: His own, to live according to His principles, even if that means fighting against an opponent called the evil one.
One day, when Jesus returns to give us immortal bodies, our "youth...[will be] renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:5).(2) Then, we may be surprised to discover that those whom the world ignores or praises least will actually be classified by God as being among the greatest of all. They are the great ones because they practice God's values: honesty, fairness, mercy, trustworthiness, loyalty, and compassion. They contribute to society even in little things--something so small as giving a smile or kind word of encouragement to another person (especially when that's all they have to give). God takes notice of even little things like that, and He will reward such a person accordingly, one who consistently practices such a lifestyle of good cheer and fighting spirit. Both qualities, we get from Jesus.
gravitates toward the spectacular. But what if--the first ones to enter Heaven
will be the humble? (Jesus said they would inherit the earth.)(3)
They may not even understand the significance of their deeds; they don't even
know what they have done are noble acts. But every time we extend to someone the
rope of protectiveness and compassion, we are sharing the life of Christ. In
that way we honor Him, and live in Him, just like He said we should. Such people
are of infinite worth.
Band of Brothers
Here's one reason why it's important to cherish our Christian heroes: It's comforting to know there have been others, throughout history, who have tried to live their lives the way Jesus lived His. There have always been a few brave, determined people--a small, stubborn band--who stand firm for the right things, and against the wrong. So we should admire and cherish them, for such people are like rare gems shining in a desert or scattered about on a rocky plain. The freedom and advantages they gave us made it possible for us to honor them this day--and to God, we should always be thankful that He gave us such examples to follow insofar as they followed Christ.
Some day, we will join them when our own tour on earth in finished. Along the way, may we fight for truth and freedom. War's end may seem far away, and victory as fleeting as leaves that wither in the Fall, but victory will come, one day: We're assured of that by God's Word.
Until then, our comfort remains this: That before us have come "comrades in arms", whom we may or may not have seen face to face, but we have fought for the same values--and I think our Christian brethren are cheering us on from Heaven. One day, during the Peace, we will see them all. Jesus will usher in a perfect government for the world. That is the day we should celebrate in advance: The day we will know Him and each other, even as we are known. At last, we will all be home--with eternal life as our medal.
As the old hymn says, "O That Will Be Glory."(4)
1. "We Need a Little Love," by Tina Belcher and Tammy Underwood. Recorded on The Perry Sisters album This Kind of Love (Sonlite Records/Pamplin Music, 2000).
2. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
3. See Matthew 5:5.
4. "O That Will Be Glory," by Charles H. Gabriel.
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