Where Have All The Heroes Gone?
Charles Barkley, retired pro basketball player, had a commercial back in the 1990s where he famously said, “I am not a role model.” He was saying this to help parents and kids both realize that their moms and dads raise them and they should be the role models, not some athlete. The irony is that people, especially kids, look up to famous people, like an athlete or entertainer, as those individuals who are to be admired, and often to be thought of as heroes.
So what then is a hero? The Collins English Dictionary defines hero as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” How in the world do we deem people who shoot baskets or act in a movie as distinguished courage, or brave deeds?
Based on that definition, there are many heroes among us. Firefighters who rush into a blazing flame to save lives; police officers who run toward danger and not from it; nurses and doctors risking their own health to minister to sick people.
The Scriptures also talk about heroes, sometimes in unusual ways. For example in Judges 6:12, an angel appears to Gideon and says, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you.” Why this is surprising? Gideon has been hiding from the Midianites and is obviously afraid. After he prays for signs to validate the angel’s statement, Gideon then becomes fearless and with only 300 men, successfully vanquishes the enemies.
1 Chronicles 11:20-22 talk about the heroic fighting men of Israel that served King David. “Abishai, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill three hundred enemy warriors in a single battle…. There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.”
When you go back to the Collins English Dictionary definition of heroic, it includes “noble qualities.” Psalm 16:3 is a great example of this when King David says, “The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”
So living a righteous life day in and day out is also heroic because it is so hard to maintain a consistent godly lifestyle. That should encourage those of us who don’t feel particularly brave, but want to be all that Jesus wants us to be.
So now I want to list some of my heroes that come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, countries, and religions.
· Malala Yousafzai. Malala is a Pakistani activist who at the age of 15 was shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban assassin. She was targeted because she championed for girls in Pakistan to be educated. After being in a coma, she recovered and became at age 17 the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
· Uvalde Teachers. The mass shooting of 19 students and 2 teachers in Uvalde Texas earlier this year showed the bravery of the two teachers who tried to shield their students. The teachers lost their lives, but didn’t think twice about protecting their students.
· Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. These two sacrificed their political careers to do what they felt was the right thing. It is so refreshing to see politicians put country above politics.
· Katharine Barnwell. This name will be unknown to many. It was to me until I read about her in the October issue of Christianity Today. Barnwell is a British, Christian linguist who developed a methodology of developing written languages in a way people could understand and read the Bible. When the Jesus film was shown all over the world, it is estimated that 361 million came to Christ after that ministry began using Barnwell’s methods. Compare that to nearly 3 million people that came to Christ after listening to Billy Graham. Katharine Barnwell endured being robbed six times at gunpoint, survived multiple rounds of malaria, and threats of death from Boko Haram terrorists while living in Nigeria.
My list of heroes can go on and on. Many of whom sacrifice all the creature comforts of an easy lifestyle to bring Jesus all over the globe. In addition so many more heroes live quietly making a difference every day to make the world a better place. Often these people go through immense personal health difficulties and a lack of financial security to help others. The word “hero” would be something they wouldn’t want attached to their service. Yet that is what they are!
The next time you are aware of someone doing courageous and brave deeds, or those of noble character, tell them how much you appreciate them. They don’t do what they do for recognition, but it is always nice to hear thank you.