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ARE THE PEOPLE HONOURED AS HEROES REPRESENTING WHAT IS BEST FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

Quotes

  • We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day – but remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes (A. W. Tozer)
  • In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity (Rick Warren).
  • One of the ways that we shine the bright light of the gospel is to CRAFT a culture of honor within our churches. . . A church is a great laboratory and testing ground for “honor” (Lance Witt).
  • The greater your knowledge of the goodness and grace of God on your life, the more likely you are to praise him in the storm (Matt Chandler)
  • The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state (Martin Luther King)
  • Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has (Margaret Mead)

Text

Luke 17: 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

While visiting with a friend, we were honored by a testimony of God’s goodness shared by a couple who have been married for over 80 years. The man, 103 years old, was washing clothes and hanging them on the drying line. That is heroic in my opinion. They have a story to tell of how they have steered through the storms of life, for example such as what we learnt that each of their first three children died before their first birthday. Who will tell their story?

In any community there are people whose actions make them stand out and be revered. It is when times are tough that heroes emerge. Heroes are community champions or faith champions who provide a voice in silenced times when the familiar ways no longer meet the need of the people. A hero to me is someone who has given up the things that you and I use every single day, to achieve something higher and grander to them. In fair weather or pleasant and regular times, life is predictable and motivational talks encourage others on the steps to take to achieve a predetermined end. It is when there is an invasion by another dominating community or virus like Covid 19, that the heroes emerge. In 1920, my country was colonized by a people that were at times brutal and demeaning. Some individuals acting for the good of our people spoke up and resisted the domination. Today they are referred to as heroes -‘Shujaa’. Repeating the stories of the brave, selfless acts of those Shujaas, gives the in- coming generation models to emulate, courage as they know that it is okay to question what is frustrating the people. A hero is a person for us to look up to for their superior actions and accomplishments. What happens when a community is not able to identify heroes and so they are not honored? Is there a relationship between a community culture of honoring heroes and the growth of Christian faith?

Why Heroes Are Important in The Community Including the Community of Faith

Conviction – There are people who have a one-time heroic act, such as rescuing a baby from a burning house.  Heroes are people having convictions that force them to take a risk or sacrifice to act on what they believe is best for them and others without any expectation of reward or gain, but there is sustained struggle with temptation to give up, discouragements but one keeps going because of the cause. That commitment to conviction clarifies and highlights to others what is important. It is like giving others permission to act similarly.

One person matters – It is one person who takes selfless initiative to act in what makes a difference. That is the person God is looking for. “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). One person who listens to God and takes strength from him will be the conduit of revival. One spouse who chooses to allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to sprout will be like a lamp on a table or high place. The person at the time has no idea who will benefit from the beams of light.

Progress – In times of certainty, the focus is on labels used to distinguish one member of a community from another. Reverend, doctor, professor, ‘mheshimiwa’, chief executive officer, and so on.  It is easy to lose the vision of life and assume that climbing the societal ladder is what gives life meaning. Competition, outdoing one another and emphasis on superficial external behavior characterize the culture until a voice echoes. Societal heroes are role models who perform behaviors that reinforce our most treasured values and connections with others. ”You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance” (Deuteronomy 1:6, 7). That is what has revitalized the Christian faith. It may plant the thought that they themselves should be more involved in what develops the church or community as well.

 There Is A Distinction Between Community Heroes and Faith Heroes

 Silent heroes – While it is easy to tell those whose acts of bravery, courage and selflessness are in a community, it is not as easy to identify those whose courage is an act of obedience to Christ. There are heroes of faith who are described as villains in their time because they do not fit in , for… “ the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground (Hebrews” 11:38). In addition, there are many heroes of faith that are not identified because they are like God’s secret force. People whose prayers have literally moved mountains, brought down or brought into being governments, and kept the faith ,yet were not visible to the world.  There is a real danger when people do what they do for the others or for the church of Christ in order to be recognized and praised.  “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

Unworthy servants who have done their duty – Genuine heroes are not praise seekers. Whatever they do, they act in obedience to God and His word. Though their good works lead people to praise God in heaven, their motivation is obedience to God. That is why they rarely think of what they do as being unusual or praiseworthy. A person who allows people to praise him in the name of being honored may not be the kind of hero we are talking about. When such people are honored, by highlighting not only their character and focus on mission, the person is still grappling with the mission. . I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen (Martin Luther).  If the kingdom of God is to come and His will done on earth, we need a people who have a deep look at the word of God, look at the current trends and in love, act. When honoring those who are champions of what people like represents the highest value, it keeps the people thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

While acknowledging that it is hard to distinguish those who may appear as faith heroes yet are not but it was a culturally constructed faith compared with those who listened to one voice, Jesus. we have to recognize our limitedness. If Jesus’ teaching was that… after a servant has done what is expected of him/her, more assignments await, how then can one still having breath of life accept to be crowned as a hero by people?  Jerry Bridges says that the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 … obeyed by faith … obedience is the pathway to holiness … no one will become holy apart from a life of faith. Faith enables us to claim the promises of God, but it also enables us to obey the commands of God.

However, whoever is honored as the hero of faith sets the standard of the faith that is propagated. Acknowledgement and honor provide the fuel that progresses the faith. As the stories of the actions are shared, imagination is expanded. The struggle and refusal to be honored and identified is part of the heroism. It is in sharing testimonies of answers to prayer, or sharing the manifestation of the power of God in diverse ways that people’s fears are calmed, their hopes are nourished and important values that give strength and courage are fostered. That is what gives life a greater purpose. All of us have what it takes to be a hero and that could explain why their stories catch our attention. What we need is consistency, focus, and keeping doing what the Master has told us to do. Real heroes are those who will hear the words of the Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23). While acknowledging the great acts of others, are you balancing between admiring them while aware that they are unworthy servants?

I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can.” (C. S. Lewis)

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