Saturday, February 18, 2017

Great American Heroes

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

-- Luke 16:10

Maybe you remember that amusing series of commercials from several years back called Great American Heroes. Each tongue-in-check ad recognized a faceless individual who labors diligently behind the scenes to support the American lifestyle. What made the commercials memorable was their over-the-top scripts and theme music that saluted the accomplishments of such working-class heroes as "Mr. Backyard Bug-Zapper Inventor," "Mr. Jelly Donut Filler" and "Mr. Driving Range Ball Picker-Upper."

"Without you, Mr. Giant Foam Finger Maker, our teams would be in sixth or seventh place," proclaimed the announcer.

Great American Heroes, indeed. Number OneAnd although these commercials were absurd, their celebrations of the Average Joe were in many ways on the mark--at least when it comes to Jesus' viewpoint. For example, society tends to honor sports stars, musicians, actors and politicians as heroes. And there are times when firefighters, police officers and others are lauded (and deservedly so) for their bravery. But Jesus tells us that reality differs from the world's conventional wisdom regarding heroism. From his perspective, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

What does that mean? The world defines the successful of our society as those who do what it takes to get to the top and stay there. And in many cases, they see the end (prestige and fame) as justifying the means. But for true Christ-followers, this so-called road to fortune is nothing but a dead end to ruin.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with achieving success in business or making lots of money. The trouble comes when wealth, fame and power become the focus of our lives. And rather than being blessings to benefit ourselves and others, they can actually become addictions that enslave us.

What does it look like for a Christ-follower to achieve success? The answer lies in descending the world's ladder of greatness into humility and servant leadership. Serving our neighbors--those next door, in the next cubicle and in the next continent--becomes more of a joy than a chore. And ultimately, the way we live our life Monday through Saturday looks much like how we live it on Sunday.

Maybe you'll never get your own TV commercial like "Mr. King of the Karaoke Mike" or "Mr. Souvenir Snow Globe Maker." But rest assured that the honors will be much greater once you invite Christ to use your gifts and talents to help build his kingdom right here on earth. 

Great American Heroes, indeed.

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