HEROES AND HEROISM

What are heroes remembered for?

History is filled with people that are deemed to be heroes/heroines. But do all of them meet the threshold of heroism? What is it that really characterizes lives of true heroes?

In the Bible, the Book of Hebrews 11 records heroes of faith; people who stood out for what they believed in. Their qualities and accomplishments outlived them; and their lives became celebrated beyond their lifetimes.

What characterizes the lives of heroes?

1. Heroes are men and women known for their faith– They are people who walk not by what is seen but unseen. They believe. They believe in people’s potential beyond the present. They do not have the word “impossible” in their vocabulary. Besides, they are able to provide leadership that takes people from known to unknown.

2. Heroes have a Source of inspiration– Heroes derive their inspiration beyond themselves. Many find sustainable strength and encouragement not from people or what they get but from God and His word. God is their partner.

3. Heroes live for a purpose greater than themselves– True heroes are selfless. They have learned to conquer the self. They lay down their lives for the sake of many. They forfeit their prerogatives and rights to be able to look at the welfare of many. They are givers, not takers.

Their sphere of their influence is beyond their nuclear family, extended family, tribe, country, race, socio-economic or political distinctions. They see God’s image in all people. That is why they are celebrated by people from various walks of life.

4. Have eternal perspective of things– One jewel that all heroes have is hope. They look forward to something better. To them, the best is yet to come. They have a vision of this life and the life to come. Their hope cannot be eclipsed by temporary circumstances. In addition, they do not enjoy the present at the expense of tomorrow; their lives are shaped by the vision of what is to come.

5. Heroes stand for truth and justice– Truth is always something unpopular and in most cases suppressed. But heroes are always on the side of truth. They preach the truth and courageously advocate/defend the truth without seeking people’s approval. Besides, they fearlessly challenge established structures that are founded on falsehood. As a result many heroes aren’t honored or celebrated in their lifetimes.

6. Heroes are men and women of conviction– They are people who passionately live for a particular cause. They have a singular affection for a certain cause or need; and that is where they focus their energies on. They redefine and set new norms and standards.. Their consuming passion is often met with stiff resistance and hostility. And so sometimes they are killed because of what they adamantly stand for or dream. Often, they are defined not by the number of years they live but by the difference they made (in the lives of people) within the (few) years they live.

7. Heroes are men and women of integrity– They are figures of great repute in their societies. They do what they say and say what they do.

8. Like stars, heroes shine brighter in darkness– Heroes stand out from among the majority. Where there is hatred they demonstrate love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

9. They are future-oriented– They are not consumed with past narratives of failure, disappointments, and grudges. They have a big windscreen/windshield and a small rear view mirror. They shape the future in a new and greater way.

10. Heroes are ordinary human beings– Heroes are not superhuman, they are people like you and me; but they choose to rise above the occasion. They refuse to settle on mediocrity and average. They choose to be part of a solution than to be part of a problem. They do small things in a big and different way.

Be a hero.

LORD MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT

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Believers in Christ are vessels in the hands of the Master. We are called to be a co-workers with God in what He is accomplishing in our word today. This involves living our our kingdom values as we preach concerning the nearness of the kingdom of God.

For today’s inspiration, spare some time to pray/think through the prayer of the 13th Century Francis of Assisi (below); as you reflect on the context that God has placed you in, the opportunities, and how you can become instrumental in bringing a difference in the situations around you.

Prayer Associated with Francis of Assisi

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

CONNECTED

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Jesus used various illustrations to effectively communicate the relationship and the connection between him, the Father, and his disciples. One of such illustrations was an agricultural analogy.  Jesus presents himself as the true vine ( ‘I’m the true vine’), the Father as the gardener, and his disciples as the branches.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jn 15:1-3).

In this profound illustration two things are expected/desired by the Gardener:  

Fruitfulness– Fruitfulness is the Father’s expectation for every branch that is attached to the vine. It is God’s will that you become a fruitful believer. Fruitfulness is the increase and multiplication of the seed/word that was sown. There is a deposit in you that can either be suppressed or harnessed for greater multiplication and fruitfulness.

Fruitful here can refer to the way you live. It can also refer to bringing others to Jesus; but it can also be construed in terms of bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control­- Galatians 5:22-23. So be fruitful.

Any branch that isn’t fruitful has forfeited its purpose. There is no use of such a branch to the gardener. It is like clouds without rain, a well without water, or like salt that has lost its saltiness. The only thing that the gardener (God) does to such a branch is to cut it off and throw it to the fire. Elsewhere, He promises to spit out from his mouth that which is neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:16). Therefore, see to it that you do not become axed by God.

Cleanliness– On the other hand, every branch that bears fruit is pruned to make it even more fruitful. Its productivity is enhanced and increased. Pruning, removing the unnecessary buds, is not meant to kill the sprouts of the vine but to make it clean, flourish, and even produce many more yields. (The painful ‘pruning experiences’ we sometimes go through are not meant to make us bitter but better).

Jesus further instructs, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you”. The word of God is able to purify us from all unrighteousness and make us clean, effective, and productive in our Christian lives. The Leviticus imperative “be holy because I am holy” is relevant here. It is untrue to claim that we (branches) are connected to Jesus (the true vine) yet we live in sin.

Therefore how can we remain connected to the true vine? Again, two things are necessary:  

i). Detachment– We need to be detached from the things that hinder us from getting connected to the true vine. It could be possible that you are attached to other “vines” and not to the “true vine”, Jesus Christ. Concurrently, you can’t be attached to Jesus and some other things.

Jesus guarantees, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5c). We are nothing without him. Without him, we achieve nothing. Detachment from Jesus only leads to fruitlessness and complete removal from the true vine.

The truth is, to be detached from our past (or from what we see as a source of life) is not an easy processes; it needs God’s grace and a decisive move.

ii). Attachment– Detachment should lead to attachment. There is no neutral ground. You “put off” and “putt on”. After getting detached from various concerns, we need to be attached to the true vine for fruitfulness and purity.

Jesus taught, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (Jn. 15:5)

Our life is derived from our connection with Jesus, the true vine. Jesus is our life. It is by remaining in him that we have the words of eternal life. In Jesus there is holiness; and it is by remaining in him that we become/are made holy. In Jesus there is a savior; by becoming connected to him we are saved. In Jesus there is glorious and unfading inheritance and by becoming constantly connected to him we become co-heirs with Christ.

Get connected today to the true vine to receive the life of God.

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