Think of some of the heroes of your Christian faith…do you have them? Who did you think of? Maybe it was someone from the pages of Scripture like Abraham, Moses, Esther, David, Paul or one of the prophets. Maybe it wasn’t anyone mentioned in Scripture like Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Adoniram Judson, C.S. Lewis, Steve Saint, or Jim Elliot. Those have all been really important names as the pages of our Christian history have been turned and have no doubt been used mightily by God in the advancement of His kingdom. I could only hope to be used as much as they were.
I can’t begin to describe to you how the lives and works of people like Lewis, Edwards and Bonheoffer have impacted my personal spiritual growth over the last couple of years. I’m stirred by the likes of Elliot, Saint and Judson who made the ultimate sacrifice on foreign fields in successful attempts to spread the gospel there. The faithfulness of countless men and women has inspired still countless others over the years to grow both deeper and wider in their Christian faith.
I’m reminded of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship which taught me to always be aware of “cheap grace” as a deadly enemy of the Church and my own soul. He taught me that while grace is free and unconditional, the presence of such scandalous grace in my life would naturally produce an allegiance to Christ and His kingdom that could, and probably would, ultimately prove costly.
Who hasn’t heard of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity in which Lewis provides a rational basis for the Christian faith and which has provided for me a solid footing on which to present many an apologists’ argument for why I believe what I believe. If you aren’t familiar with Mere Christianity, surely you’re familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia! Pay attention while watching or reading these “children’s stories” and see if you can’t find all the parallels to our Christian faith. And who hasn’t been strengthened or challenged by a quote or two from Lewis?
Martin Luther was the father of the Protestant Reformation and largely responsible, in human terms, for the faith we hold today. He translated the Bible into German so people like you and I could read the Bible for ourselves and he led the charge which ultimately freed the Church from the tyranny of Rome. David was a man after God’s own heart. Abraham is the father of a great nation. Paul was the apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. The list goes on and on of people who accomplished much and were used tremendously by God.
We should look up to these people, seek to imitate them (1 Cor. 11:1), learn from them, and be encouraged by them. But as important as these people have been to our faith, I’ve been struck recently by the thought that throughout the pages of the Bible and history there has only been one hero. Mark Driscoll has said, in the language of the old westerns, there is only one cowboy who wears a white hat, rides a white horse, and saves the day. The rest of us wear black. This includes the list of people I mentioned earlier and anyone you may have thought of that I left out (as my list was certainly not exhaustive).
Bonhoeffer was captured in an attempt to assassinate Hitler (whether this was appropriate or not is outside the scope of this blog). C.S. Lewis was a former atheist. Martin Luther wrote things about the Jews later in his life that his younger self would most certainly have disapproved of. David was guilty of adultery and murder. Abraham lied about his wife to protect himself. And Paul was a leading persecutor of Christians prior to his Damascus Rd. conversion.
To a man (or woman), every single person who has ever lived has had character flaws that should have disqualified them from Christian service (be it vocational or otherwise). If it wasn’t a major flaw like David’s, then it was 1,000 little ones that likely never made the news or history books. There has ever only been one person to keep and fulfill every letter of the law and who had the power to defeat Satan, sin and death. He is the Great Hero whose defeat of His three aforementioned foes took the form of a death itself. I’m reminded of a recent @PastorMark tweet which read, “The cross is God’s attack on human sin…Strange attack – to suffer and die at our hands! – Gerhard Forde.” It took death to defeat death. The One, the only One, who did not deserve to die, willingly died for us so that we could live.
We are the villains, members of a traitor race refusing to bow in allegiance or worship. He is the Hero, invading our world to save us from ourselves. So remember, there can be many heroes, but there can be only one Hero. His name is Jesus Christ.