Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single… well, okay, maybe not. In the world of comic books, heroes usually possess some extraordinary talent or ability; the ability to fly, or to lift a car off the ground with one hand, or the ability to scale tall buildings like a spider.
What Makes a Hero? When we think of the word “hero,” many images may come to mind. We might think of a masked, caped, super-human do-gooder who can fly and lift cars for the good of mankind. Or, we might think of firefighters, police or military men and women who bravely face danger to protect the rest of us. The most important question, however, is not what WE think makes a hero, but what GOD says is heroic.
Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of heroes “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” People from many different walks of life are featured in the Hebrews 11 “cloud of great witnesses,” the “who’s who” of true heroism, but just what is it that makes these men and women the heroes they are? Did they possess physical beauty? Some did, but not all. Did they possess superhuman strength? Were they great athletes? Public speakers? Great entertainers? Were they brainiacs or billionaires or daredevils? On the whole, no.
Yet they are all listed, one after the other, in the Hebrews 11 hero hall of fame. And for all the heroes who are listed there, Hebrews 11 tells us that there are many other equally heroic people who aren’t listed by name. But by the standards of our world, none of these people would qualify as heroes. Moses would be villainized in our media for allowing God to use him to send plagues on Egypt and to drown the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. Isaiah would be dismissed as a bigoted hatemonger spewing religious nonsense (as he was regarded in his own day). Jesus Himself would be seen as an intolerant, closed-minded troublemaker. Being a true hero has nothing to do with what WE are able to do. Instead, it has everything to do with what GOD is able to do through us when we trust and obey Him. Our God chooses shepherds to be kings, fishermen to be Apostles, and common girls to save nations. And speaking for myself, that’s what I love most about God. That God chooses the common, ordinary, unremarkable nobodies of the world to do His work is one of the most encouraging facts I can think of. By this wonderful fact, God tells us that He can use US–yes, even US–to do great things!
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Hebrews chapter 11 makes no secret of what makes for a true hero. It’s not about talent or smarts or station. It’s not about sensationalism. The common denominator for all the great Bible heroes is their faith in God; a faith that leads to trust and obedience. Being a true hero has nothing to do with what WE are able to do. Instead, it has everything to do with what GOD is able to do through us when we trust and obey Him. Our God chooses shepherds to be kings, fishermen to be Apostles, and common girls to save nations. And speaking for myself, that’s what I love most about God. That God chooses the common, ordinary, unremarkable nobodies of the world to do His work is one of the most encouraging facts I can think of.
In thinking about what a Hero is? I started to look in the mirror to evaluate if I was/ or could be a Hero. Honestly I was at a lack for words. I knew in my heart what I wanted to say about myself, but couldn’t express it properly. I am a devoted husband, a loving son, an above average father, a soldier, a minister, a Christian man. To me, a Hero is a guy that little boys want to be, other men want to hang out with and women love. Then I had a revelation, a Christian man is a superhero. (He’s Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and Captain America.)
What is it about superheroes that we love? ; It’s what they do. They save damsels in distress, rescue kittens from trees and crush the super villains. They usually don’t say too much. That’s because they don’t have to. Their actions speak for themselves. As much as little boys want to be able to fly, to run faster than a speeding bullet, to leap tall buildings and to have bullets bounce off their chest, they want to do these things while doing something heroic (not to be the villain). It’s through superheroes and their evil nemeses that we see that it’s not enough to have superpowers if you don’t do something good with them. Similarly in life, we have the potential for greatness. Even Superman’s father told him that the reason he sent him to Earth was because humans had the capacity for good. All of us come into this world with different talents, but we have one thing in common, free will. No matter what our talent is, we get to choose how to use that. And even beyond our talents, we get to choose our actions everyday. Just like superheroes, it’s through our actions that we speak the loudest.
I was 21 and just realized that my life wasn’t at all what I had envisioned it would be. I wasn’t the kind of man that the kid in me would look up to or want to be like. As a kid, I always wanted to be a superhero (and had the underoos to prove it). I still do. Yet, my actions were nothing like that of a superhero. And my words well, words mean very little when your actions don’t back them up. I had a gauntlet laid down before me. It was no longer good enough for me to act one way for 166 hours a week and then, go to Church for two hours and think I was doing my part. My first thought was: how do I do this? I knew God wanted me to be a husband and father some day. I even knew I was called to be a minister. Maybe even a pastor? How did all this fit into being a good Christian man? Did I have to rethink all my future plans? Was this going to mean a more restrictive life full of “commandments” of things that I couldn’t do?
Eventually, I learned that I didn’t have to overhaul my life, retreat to a monastery and avoid society. In order to a good Christian man, I realized I had to start acting like a superhero. As I internalized my faith, as it became a part of who I was, my actions began to change on their own. This is where free will becomes important. We, as men of Christ, are called to do the right thing. More importantly, like superheroes, we have the power to choose to do the right thing because we want to, despite how easy it is to do the wrong thing. We will never be perfect; because our humanity means that we have weaknesses (even Superman had kryptonite). However, as Christian men, we have the strength from our faith to continue to get up when we do fall, to help our fellow-men get back up, to be an example for our friends and family and to do His will. Despite the fact that we’ll never be perfect, we continually strive for perfection.
It’s in the actions of Christian men, of real world superheroes, that we really see what being a man is. As cool as superheroes look in their costumes (which says a lot since most of their costumes involve grown men wearing tights), it was their actions that we admired and wanted to imitate. So, as men, we can wear all the S.W.A.G. (Salvation Was A Gift) Apparel gear that we want, but if our actions aren’t heroic, the clothes don’t mean anything.
We Can Be A Hero! In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Philippians 4:13 tells us that “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Through faith in God Almighty, YOU can be a hero too. Who knows what God will accomplish through you? All you need is to be His willing servant, and to put your faith in Him!
I am a financial analyst who still plays video games, still watched Sci-Fi movies, & still reads a comic book from tyme to tyme, and still knows how to have fun. But before all those things, I am a Christian man that loves God, that knows that my faith will guide to do the right thing and that wants to do the right thing. I am far from perfect, but I’m much more of a man than I was before accepting Christ and much closer to being the husband and father that I know I’m called to be. Just like the men and women listed in Hebrews 11. Because of their faithfulness to God, they were each given the courage, the strength, the perseverance and the power to do great things for God. They were ordinary people, but by their faith, God made them heroes. And by OUR faith, He can make US into heroes too.