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Heroes of What?

It wasn’t too long ago that I came across an article which spoke of a survey taken by the World Almanac and Book of Facts which dealt with the subject of heroes and today’s young people. This survey polled 2000 eighth grade American students to learn which persons they most admired and would most want to be like when they grow up.

These young people were asked to name their top 30 heroes. And not without surprise, the leading vote getter was a male screen actor. In fact, there was not a single name on the list that was not an entertainer or a sports figure. There were no statesmen, no scientists, no authors, no painters, no musicians, sculptors, architects, doctors, lawyers, or even any astronauts.

Now these are young people who will be starting high school this Fall. They were born and have grown up in an era of incredible change in almost every field. It has been an age of discovery, of invention, of innovation in all kinds of different areas.

Yet not one of these polled young people would care to model himself or herself after a figure who has made what the world would term a real contribution.

What is wrong here? Perhaps in the broadest sense, this country’s culture is at fault, our public school system, our quality of public life, our unbalanced scale of rewards, and this country’s personal and social values.

But let’s not dismiss the whole area of this country’s heroes and simply say that’s their problem, because we all know better. It is our problem as well. We would be rather hard pressed to come up with a list of 30 people who we most admire that would be any different from any the young people polled in this survey came up with. Let’s be honest and admit, if only to ourselves, that we have much the same desires, goals, and attitudes the the world’s young people have.

And one of these goals is, quite simply, money or economic success. And that one item, money, to a very large degree determines who will or will not be a hero.

Take for example ball players or most sport figures. They receive hundreds upon thousands, perhaps even millions, of dollars because they can simply play a game well.

It is a simple fact, but true, that the people that this country, as well as the world, chooses as heroes are not people who have done “great” things but people who have made it big. People who have made the most money, who seem to have every worldly goods, who seem to have all the good life can possibly bring; these are the people that the world and we too tend to hold up with the highest respect.

All of this points to the sorry state into which this world has fallen. Every sector of human life seems to be controlled by the desire for more and more of this world’s money. Although we realize that this world is fast becoming ripe for judgment, it still causes us concern, especially when we see some in the Church leave to join the world in its quest for money and all that it supposedly offers.

But what fools they are, what a shame that they think that they have all the answers. In fact, they have nothing; for it will all pass away. They think that they know what is important, but how foolish they are.

Just stop and let your mind go back to that well known chapter in Hebrews, Chapter 11. Maybe you even learned this chapter in school or Sunday school a few years back. This chapter in God’s Word tells us about what we have come to call heroes of faith. Now these saints were heroes in the very real sense. Think of men like Joseph, Moses, David, and women like Sarah and Rahab, all heroes who by faith in God did great things. Just listen to verses 33 and 34 of this chapter. “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

I dare say that none of these saints were on any list that these polled young people had, but that is not really important is it? They are in the pages of God’s Word, and their lives serve as a testimony for all of us; young and old alike, to follow.

And with that thought in mind, I hope that you take time to read this entire chapter and notice the witness of all of the saints. These were men and women who were no different than you and I; they all had to deal with the weakness and sinfulness of this flesh. But yet by God’s grace were able to make real contributions to the Church of Jesus Christ as it was revealed through the pages of history.

Compared to these heroes, what does the world have to offer us? See what I mean? The world has no heroes, but the Church does.

By God’s grace may we all strive to be more like the heroes of Hebrews 11. For young people, your future as well as the future of our churches depends on it.