Sunday, February 03, 2008
Ever dream of being a hero?
“32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” NASU
There are several stories represented in this passage from Hebrews—stories of daring action, bold attacks, thrilling suspense, and even political intrigue and romance. Read this list above again—these people conquered kingdoms, shut lions’ mouths, quenched fire, became mighty in war, etc.
Remember when you were growing up and you would pretend to be a soldier in a war, or a superhero fighting crime, or a “man alone” against evil? Did you ever dream of conquering kingdoms by yourself? Did you fight the odds? Did you defeat the evil ones with your super powers? Did the “good guys” win the fight?
I remember playing at superheroes and war when I was a child. None of my brothers or friends would choose to lose. We wanted to be the hero, the one who changed the tide of battle so that the “good guys” won. We wanted to perform daring deeds; we wanted to walk with a swagger, to be swashbucklers for good!
We wanted to be John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Captain America. We wanted to be heroes standing against the evil doers!
We wanted to be like those listed here in Hebrews 11. We wanted to be amazing, to be daring, to be bold, to be courageous.
Where are we now?
What kind of heroes have we become at the end?
Where are our tales of daring, of bold actions?
Phillips Brooks says it like this:
“The great danger facing all of us—let me say it again, for one feels it tremendously—is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel that life has no meaning at all—not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to render the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God—and be content to have it so—that is the danger. That some day we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with the husks and trappings of life—and have really missed life itself.”
Have I lost my verve for life? Have I lost contact with the One who makes life worth living?
Have I fallen into the danger of complacency and mediocrity? Have I missed that “abundant life” because I forgot how much fun it was to “risk it all” to save someone from evil?
Have I allowed my contact with God to be minimal?
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan is described in this manner:
“’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver, ‘Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.’”
God is like that.
He isn’t safe, he isn’t tame . . . in fact, God can be quite wild on occasions.
But he is GOOD.
We have to have contact with him, we have to be intimately attached to him for life to be good.
Oh, life may also be wild on occasions, and it will not always be safe.
But it will be GOOD. . . .
And abundant. . . .
When once we experience this intimacy with God, the hope is that we will become addicted. Addicted to God, what a great idea! As God in Christ fills all of our mundane existence, we will begin to see all of life as sacramental. Why? Because God is in it.
That’s our challenge, isn’t it? To live as though all those things Jesus said were true. As Charlie Peacock has said, we must learn to “live like heaven is a real place.”
May God grant us the grace to do so.
Thanks for reading!