More on Heroes

More on Heroes

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Speaking of heroes, in the article "The Pitfalls of Hero Worship," Matt Kaufman talks about an important lesson he learned from Professor S:

While in his class, I wrote a paper on Abraham Lincoln so adulatory toward the Great Emancipator that S — himself favorably disposed toward Lincoln — had to gently chide me not to gush over my subject. "Lincoln," he wrote, "wouldn't have liked that!"

I find it funny when I think back on that, because I've become decidedly more critical toward Lincoln in recent years. But that, too, is beside the point. The point is that it's not right to idolize anyone, even if he truly is the most admirable person you know of.

There's more than one reason for this. The main one is that it's idolatry — taking at least some measure of the glory meant for God alone and transferring it to sinful human beings, the very best of whom is, at the core of his being, thoroughly rebellious toward God and righteous only in that God declares Him righteous through Christ.

Heroes are inevitable because humans have a natural tendency to fixate on those who seem to embody their ideals. The Bible doesn't discourage us from emulating heroes. Hebrews 11, sometimes called the "Faith Hall of Fame," is a spectacular list of heroes of the faith — each embodying a spiritual characteristic. The catch is discerning who is, in fact, a hero.

The first two verses of Hebrews 12 teach us the place heroes should have in our lives:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

True heroes give us perseverance ("If they could do it, I can do it"), and they cause us to look beyond them to Christ, our ultimate hero. Having heroes is important, but fixing our eyes on Jesus is the point.

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  • Comment by  Ame:

    I heard once that Corrie ten Boom was asked once how she handled all the praise and appreciation she received. She said that at the end of the day she took all of the praise and appreciation and thank-you's and gave them all back to God.

    May I not make anyone or anything my idol, and, in as much as I am able, may I not allow myself to become an idol to another.

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