July 23, 2017

Is There a Hero in the House?

 

Psalms 34:9-14

You who are the Lord’s holy ones, honor him,
because those who honor him don’t lack a thing.
10 Even strong young lions go without and get hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, children, listen to me.
Let me teach you how to honor the Lord:
12 Do you love life;
do you relish the chance to enjoy good things?
13     Then you must keep your tongue from evil
and keep your lips from speaking lies!
14 Turn away from evil! Do good!
Seek peace and go after it!

 

We had a great week at HERO CENTRAL learning about what makes a hero in God’s eyes. In the Book of 1 Samuel, we heard stories about David, the son of Jesse, who had more heart than his larger, smarter, and faster brothers. David was anointed king over all of Israel because of his love for God. God’s heroes have heart.

 

Later, we read about David’s army coming to the house of Abigail. Abigail was the wife of a very bad man – Nabal – and would like likely been killed had she not had the courage to stand up to both her husband’s servants and David’s army and recognized that by offering David’s men help she would save her family. God’s heroes have courage.

 

Finally, we read the familiar story of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles of Jesus and gave them the power to do miracles so that the name of Jesus could reach the whole world.  God’s heroes have power.

 

Today’s Scripture from Psalms sums these stories up well: God is seeking heroes to do the work of making disciples; God calls us to pursue peace and goodness in the world. We can’t just wait for peace and goodness. We have to go after them using the gifts God gives us.

 

We adults are often guilty of seeing Vacation Bible School as a cute ministry that involves the kids or maybe an excuse for overworked parents to get free babysitting for three nights in the summer. And, trust me, I can see the wonderful ministry that takes place on those alone. The church needs to be a place and a people we can lean on to help us out in the raising of our children.

 

But what if we actually took the lessons taught in VBS seriously? What if we got past the glass wall of themes that don’t speak to our refined cultural palates and read these stories with fresh eyes? What if we shared in the excitement of the biblical passages with the same electricity as the first people who told them? Remember, the majority of the life of the Bible has been oral telling rather than the dusty books and glossy posters we keep on our shelves. The Bible once had a vibrant and active life in its telling.

 

These passages tell of the greatness of our spiritual ancestors. They speak honestly and truthfully about the struggles of what we want in a protagonist, a hero, and show the folly in it. While we today idolize the super strong and super-fast Superman, or the world’s greatest detective and crime fighter Batman, or the unbridled power of the Hulk, the Bible tells us it is the underlying traits that make a person a hero.

 

We in church have many lessons to learn from the heroes of the Bible. They have strength and courage and a will to serve God that, quite frankly, are hard to find. So often we choose alter egos of “I’ll Help When I’m Happy Man” or “I’m Just So Busy Woman” or “Call of Duty Kid.” Just because we have found something comfortable or something we like doesn’t mean that it is our calling.

 

God calls for Heart Heroes, Kindness Warriors, and Wisdom Generals so disciples can be made, and the world can be transformed. We fear enemies that carry weapons of destruction, and they are out there, but our greatest enemies are the apathy-mongerers that tell us we can never make a real impact on the world. Or those on TV and in the news that make us think every stranger is out to harm or cheat us with 24 hour terror alerts. We tell ourselves that a life without pain is a life well-lived. The greatest heroes of the faith looked pain and fear and harm in the eyes and simply said, “I don’t care and you can’t stop me.”

 

Heroes are not people who sit and wait for the right moment to act. Heroes aren’t those who think service is when they can make time for it. Heroes are people that are diligent and always ready to offer an act of kindness, to invite others to join in their community, those who say, “I see you are in pain. I believe in Jesus who says he is here to help with pain. Let’s find a place for you to heal.”

 

I saw many heroes this week: Donna, Sandy, and Teresa working nonstop making sure every child got to do all the crafts even if they weren’t there the day before, Stevie and John being our youngest teachers, many of the youth showed up tired and sweaty right after practice so they could be here, and all the volunteers who took time out of their weeks to bring food and be present and help out. Heroes that used their skills for the sake of God’s work.

 

We are not in church to be saved by Jesus over and over like some poor person in distress. We aren’t here to get our fill and then go home. We are here to listen and learn, to train and practice our faith. God is calling for heroes. Will you answer?