Have you ever had a personal hero? We don’t talk about heroes too much anymore. Did you ever wonder why? Have we become too skeptical? Has human nature or human’s nature to sin clouded our views of heroism in a spiritual sense? Where have all the heroes gone?
I remember that as a child, I had many heroes. I have always admired Abraham Lincoln as a great leader and a man of great faith in God and in humankind. I had sports heroes. Kenny Boyer played third base for the Cardinals in the early to mid sixties and I wanted to play third base just like Kenny Boyer and some day make a great salary like he did – say $30,000/year. (Times have changed there.) As an even younger child I watched those hokey 30 minute Superman episodes and wondered if he really could do all those remarkable things. One of my personal heroes was my Uncle Roger – when I was growing up he coached the Otwell Millers and I wanted to be a coach just like him. Another model human being for me was Andy Griffeth – he could deal with all those characters in Mayberry, especially Barney Fife and still keep an even temperament.
My personal heroes were good clean-cut hard-working role models. Do these folks still exist today? Yes they do, but too many people in our time are making poor choices. One day they look good and the next day we begin to doubt because of bad life choices (sin).
What better place may we turn to find real heroes than the Word of God? In Hebrews 11:1 we find a definition for faith as “Assurance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen.” The rest of chapter 11 lists examples of faith in those Godly men and women who were known for their belief in God - People like Abel, Enoch, Abraham & Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Rahab the harlot. These men and women lived their lives as examples to all who would follow after them. Though all were imperfect, and they all lived at various times in uncommon situations, they all set their feet upon the same track.
- Hebrews 12, the great heroes of faith are seen as a great cloud of witnesses. The writer of Hebrews describes them as spectators who have passed on the baton of faith which we are now called to carry – “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Today, as each of us holds on to that baton of faith, desiring to run the race that God has set before us - I challenge each of us to take to the track and strive to become a hero for the next generation to follow. There are three things I would like to suggest to you today, that may help you to become a hero through your faith in Christ:
I. Rid yourself of sin (Hebrews 12:1).
Have you ever tried to run a race while carrying a couple of bowling balls? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? You have a much better chance of winning if you cast off the extra weight. And yet, so often as Christians, we continue to carry the burden of sin when we don’t have to - Christ redeemed us from the burden of sin by dying on the cross!
On the day you were baptized you were freed from the burden of sin - being raised with Christ, you became a new person. At times we still do wrong- As we strive to do right, we must constantly be aware of our struggles with sin. [James 1:12-15] encourages us to "put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness." 1 Corinthians 10:13 allows us to know that God always provides a way of escape from tempting situations. If we attempt to run the race while carrying the burden of sin, we will never leave the starting block!
II. Fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)!
From Matthew 15:22-31 we read about how Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off of Jesus - He lost his focus. Jesus is our coach and guide - it is Jesus who shows us how to run the race. Jesus is also why we run the race. 1 Peter 2:21 says, "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you leaving you an example to follow in his steps." Therefore, we have been called to exemplify Jesus by the way we live our lives.
III. With your eyes fixed on Jesus, God calls you to run with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1)!
Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Jimmy Valvano, the very successful college basketball coach near his death from cancer was quoted, "Never give up! Never give up! Never, ever give up!" So many begin the race, but so few Heroes complete it! Remember this - Nothings matters if you do not finish!
So where have all the heroes gone? Just look around – you’ll find many heroes of the faith here in our church and community, all striving to follow Christ to the end. You find heroes striving to find God’s direction and purpose in their lives – teaching, loving, giving, and sharing. Christ,