From the beginning of time every culture has had its heroes to inspire them. People have always been thrilled to tell and listen to stories of adventures both real and fictional. These are our heroes who have overcome impossible odds with courage, skill, and character that are almost superhuman. There is something about this desire in us to imagine far away places and exciting events that lift us out of the routine of our every day existence. Perhaps they serve us by encouraging us in the challenges we face in normal living.
One day, I was listening to a college professor discussing the many religions of the world. He noted that many of the great religions of the east were contemplative and generally were in pursuit of tranquility, but that Christianity was more heroic. This set off a line of thinking in me that I had never considered before. From that time on I began to see heroism as an element that is very central to the Christian Faith.
The message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ brought to mankind goes to the very core of human need. The love that He expressed and the forgiveness He brought is commonly known to us as the salvation experience. The peace that follows our surrender to God our Father, and our reunion with Him is described in many ways, depending upon our religious and cultural backgrounds, but the desire and need for it is universal. The title of “Savior of the World,” has appropriately been given to Jesus, but today the phrase has become so worn out that to some it has lost its meaning.
Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, has indeed become the Great Rescuer of the world, in that He has delivered us all from guilt, sin, failure and defeat and death! You and I have simply to believe and submit to the truth of what He purchased for us by His death, burial and resurrection. By it we can obtain great peace of mind, but there is even more awaiting us than that! He can and will also fill us with a great sense of purpose and adventure! Besides needing love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace and security, human beings have another great need. That need is to live in an atmosphere of excitement, enthusiasm and exuberance for life itself! We all need a reason to be here! Some might be satisfied to say that our reason for being is God, but what does that actually mean? It is my contention that living, moving and having our being in God includes possessing His passion and enthusiasm for His Creation as well!
Jesus sent His 12 disciples, and the others who followed Him, out on the greatest adventure of all. They were to tell the world the Good News that the Kingdom of God had come and was continuing to come upon the earth. They were to be ambassadors sent by God Himself to demonstrate how this rule was to take place. In a short time, they became living examples to the world of God’s forgiveness and love, and it was easy for people to see it by the harmony in which they lived. Among other things, Church life became as environment where disciples were developed and equipped to witnesses to this reality. Then they were sent forth out into the workplaces and marketplaces of the world to share this Good News to others in their own unique way. These people were by no means perfect, and we can read about their weaknesses in the New Testament, but this did not hinder their mission. In fact this only enhanced their relationships with God and kept them together in their need for Him. Therefor His power and grace became even more abundant in their lives!
These fisherman, rebels and tax collectors obviously met with great opposition from the religious and political leaders of that day. Because their economic security was at risk and their authority was being challenged, some of the more fanatic religionists even risked their lives to stop this message from being preached! Now the excitement is really building up, and these nobodies from Galilee were going to begin calling up courage from within themselves that they did not know they had! The Holy Spirit which had empowered them from the birth of God’s Church proved to be sufficient in every test, and by His Strength the Early Church drove back the gates of Hell!
These early Christians were not content to be “the rescued. “Having been well instructed by their Master, they knew the art of becoming rescuers, and because they were on fire with their love for Him, they were driven to save anyone they could. Some of them faced the most viscous hatred that men could muster, all the while revealing the fullness of Jesus’ grace and love. Many laid down their physical lives in order that many more could be translated into the Kingdom of God’s righteousness, peace, and joy. The Reign of God that started in them began to expand, as the prophets foretold, until less than 300 years later Christianity became the dominant faith in Europe.
Over the centuries, Christians have developed a false sense of security, with the material prosperity and acceptance the institution of Christianity has enjoyed. But God has always had His flame burning in some of the nobodies of each age. The modern church in North America tends to forget about the flaming messengers of the New Testament times. Sure we can usually work up some excitement in our services, and many are out there actually living the Jesus Life, but we as a whole need liberated from our sleepy Sunday morning thinking! What we don’t need, is more motivation by guilt that often quenches our enthusiasm. The only answer is a renewing of our original sense of adventure that only Jesus Himself can impart, and He has come to bring it to us all today!
Are you up to the challenge of the ages? Is your heart crying out for new meaning and purpose? Then just say “YES, YES, YES!” to the Lord, for He is calling us to rise up today, and be empowered in His Quest! The only thing you need is a willing heart. He will do the rest. He will take you out of your boring routine and transplant you into the work that He Himself has designed you for. Many of you are already prepared, but if not, don’t worry. Being prepared by God and going to His School is an adventure in itself! I won’t guarantee He will relocate you physically, or even change your natural vocation. I do know that your days of being a “Pew Potato” will be over and you will begin experience a sense of mission in everything you do!
Every day I am learning of more individuals and groups who are through with the boring routine of “going to church” that has dominated us for centuries. Thousands are coming together today in large and small groups to learn more of Him and His Glorious Church, the Many-Membered Body of Christ. In this Body every individual is absolutely crucial to the health and well-being of the whole body. God has given us leadership whose desire is to equip every saint for the work he/she is called by God to do. As you find your place to function in God’s economy, all of us will benefit, and the wall of sickness and death will be driven back! I am talking about coming into a riotous, rowdy, informal family of believers in Jesus Christ! These people know about laughter and pain, success and failure, pressure and challenge, but they have said good-bye forever to falling asleep in “church” on Sunday morning!