Monday, 27 September 2010

Heroes/ role models - article 'Return of Real Heroes'

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:45)

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

How can words describe the honor and character of men and women who run into a burning skyscraper while thousands run away from it? How can hearts appropriately value the sacrifice of hundreds of good men and women who died trying to help others? We have a word. It’s been on the shelf a long time. That word is HERO. These people are heroes! Real heroes!

Despite all the heartache and horror of the previous two weeks, we can give thanks for the return of real heroes to our world experience.

For decades we’ve been afflicted with debates about whether sports personalities, music superstars, and movie celebrities are supposed to be role models. We’ve viewed them as near gods and goddesses. We’ve poured obscene amounts of money in their direction. We’ve let them be spokespeople for all sorts of causes despite their obvious ignorance or bias. We’ve let them hijack the morals and values of our culture. Why? Because we made them our heroes.

Please don’t get me wrong; many of these folks are wonderful people. It’s not them that is at fault as much as it is circumstance and our own tilted perspective. Longing for someone to respect and admire, we appointed celebrities and sports personalities to be our heroes by default — not because they did something valiant or noble or sacrificial, but because we enjoyed what they did to entertain us.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve repeatedly heard the declaration that our world has changed. I’m not really all that sure THE WORLD has changed. Our world has always been a hostile and dangerous place. Our history is littered with brutality, conflict, violence, and war. On the other hand, I am sure OUR PERCEPTION of that world has changed.

We have real heroes now.
In the more distant past, what ransomed families, villages, nations, and cultures from obliteration was the voluntary sacrifice of their heroes. In that sense, our world has changed. We have real heroes now. Not just pretend heroes who win a game on a last second shot, surpass a world record with a spectacular performance, or eclipse some cherished mark for hits, homers, or games played. We have real heroes now. Not just pretend heroes who can shake, gyrate, and prance. We have real heroes now. Not just pretend heroes who can croon, wail, rap, or scream. As much as I may enjoy most of these things, I won’t be tempted to call those who do them heroes. They’re talented. They’re personalities. They’re celebrities. They’re not heroes.

I’ve seen real heroes. So have you! They worked for hours digging through tons of dangerous rubble. They’ve worked till their hands bled and their bodies gave out. They’ve stood over broken and bloodied patients doing what they could to heal; and when healing wouldn’t happen, they did all they could comfort. They’ve waded through lunar-like landscapes of debris and breathed down dusty soot to reach the terrified and broken. They’ve propped up the wobbling and injured. They’ve carried the dead. They’ve run up hundreds of stairs, crowded with the fearful, trying to find the dying. They’ve even wrestled down their own plane to avert a worse tragedy. They’ve given up their lives to save others.

I don’t know about you, but I will not cheapen their sacrifice or deface their legacy by settling for the imitation glitter of cinematic pretenders or the overblown ego of adults playing children’s games. Yes, I will still go to the movies, buy CD’s, and watch sports — these are great entertainment. However, I will remember that these are only players, pretenders, and entertainers. (To their credit, they have repeatedly reminded us of this fact!) I now know where to look for heroes. While I hate the horror and the cost that came with their re-birth on September 11, I thank the LORD for the return of real heroes. I will not forget their birthday or the awful cost of their sacrifice.

I thank you God for the return of real heroes and ask you to please bless their families and their friends in this time of great loss. Please help them know that I will not forget their loss and that I will always value their loved one who gave the gift of life to save so many unknown friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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