Anglican Morning Devotion, 30 May 20121 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” (Ephesians 6:13-14)
There are times and circumstances that require great courage to stand and not shrink in the face of some danger. It is a thing common to the human condition. We may know to do the right thing, and even desire to do so, but are intimidated by the challenge to ‘stand’ that faces us. But when convictions reign so strongly in the heart that compromise is not possible, it is that moment that the heroism of faith comes to light resulting in something that seems beyond human ability to understand. Such heroism is not relegated to only the physically strong, but is sparingly stamped on the character of rich and poor, young or old, and the privileged as well as the unprivileged alike. Heroism is a God-like feature that distinguishes an individual from all others often only on one particular occasion.
The heroic person is even credited with having godly strength and courage in the word’s origin and application. The etymology of the word ‘hero’ lends understanding. The word derives from the Latin, heroe and the Greek, heros. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the original meaning came from legend and mythology to describe a man of “divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.” While the inspiration to perform courageous exploits may generally be inspired of God, such deeds of bravery do not often come from the strongest, or the ones considered the most courageous among us, but from the ordinary common man who is strong in his convictions of God and Country. Gideon of the Bible is an example of one imbued with courage by God Himself. Two other such heroes come to mind – Audy Murphy (the most decorated soldier of World War II) was rejected for military service for being underweight. He was later accepted when he lied about his age (16 years old). He received, in addition to many other citations for bravery, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Another nondescript hero of World War II was a young soldier named Rodger Young (5feet 2 inches tall) who gave his life deliberately to save his fellow soldiers (also a Congressional Medal of Honor awardee). Many others, unknown to their country, have perished in heroic battle on some dismal jungle or bloody battlefield.
There are many unrecognized heroes who have died unsung and unheralded – men and women who spent their entire lives in the depravations and hazards of the mission field far from home and with sparce resources. One example would be Mary Slessor of Calabar who ventured into the wilds of Africa where no white man had gone and had come out alive. She became one with the village tribes, and finally made them one with herself, and with Christ, in Christian faith. Her heart is buried in Africa. God was her constant companion.
Heroism is born of adversity, but the ‘hero spirit’ is dampened during times of plenty and tranquility. It is the rigors of basic training that result in a courageous soldier of the line, and it is the rigors of life with its attendant trials and struggles that result in the heroic characters that arise from the common virtues of the soul.
There is yet another Hero that dwarfs all others of the historical Record – Jesus Christ. He is One who was wealthy beyond all measure in the opulent mansions of His Father, but surrendered all to take upon Himself the flesh and human condition of man in order to save us from our sins. He lived a life of deprivation and rejection in order to teach us and lead us in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He freely subjected Himself to ridicule, torture, beatings, and a shameful death in redeeming us from the curse of sin. He could have, at any moment, called upon the angelic host to relieve Him of those miseries, but He resolved to submit Himself to awful sufferings so that we could forego the pains of death and Hell. He was the Hero to put all others to shame.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version) If Christ be not our Bishop, we have no bishop.