Summary: God calls us to be heroes not only in extraordinary circumstances, but in our daily lives.
I) Let’s talk a bit about heroes.
A) I love to read adventure thrillers. One of the authors that I used to read a lot (while he was living) was Robert Ludlum. His stories were frequently built around an average citizen who sees or hears something that he should not have. He then becomes caught up in a diabolical plot involving international espionage, assassination, or world domination. Untrained in such things, unprepared, running for his life, he somehow turns the situation around and is victorious in spite of unsurmountable obstacles. In short, the hero is a common man or woman who finds himself in an extraordinary situation and rises to overcome the challenge.
B) We frequently find ourselves fascinated by stories of real-life heroes, as well.
C) Webster defines a hero as “one that shows great courage; … admired for … achievements and noble qualities; an object of extreme admiration and devotion.”
D) Of course, the Bible has no shortage of heroes for us to consider. Take a moment to make a list of five Bible heroes. [Wait] How many of you included Joseph enduring in slavery? Moses rescuing the people from Egypt? Joshua or Gideon leading in the conquest of the Promised Land? David facing Goliath? Elijah or Paul preaching in the face of opposition? Daniel in the lion’s den? Shadrach, Meshach, or Abed-Nego facing the fiery furnace?
We can learn much from the lives of these heroes: determination to do God’s will, seen in Moses as he leaves pharaoh’s house to lead God’s people out of captivity; conviction to remain unsullied by the society around us, illustrated vividly by Daniel in the lion’s den and Meshach in the furnace; absolute trust in God, as David faces Goliath; a spirit of evangelism, leading Paul to keep on in spite of shipwrecks, beatings, and jail.
E) But there can be a problem with drawing our inspiration from great heroes of literature, of life, or even of the Bible. Their heroics took place in extraordinary circumstances. In fact, a currently popular definition of a hero is “an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor, and self-sacrifice.” But we will probably never find ourself in that burning building or fiery furnace, or sold into slavery or tasked to lead the nation from it, or even threatened by an angry mob. So we put our greatness on hold, waiting for those extraordinary circumstances to give us the opportunity for heroics.
F) Today I want to ask you to consider a few heroes of the Bible that I suspect were not on anyone’s list a few moments ago. In many cases, we don’t even know these heroes’ names, and their deeds are related in no more than a verse or two in the Bible. I am calling these “everyday heroes,” because their heroics are found in the context of their everyday lives. Yet these men and women, though perhaps not in extraordinary circumstances, fit Webster’s definition of heroes in that they showed “great courage”, and they should be “admired for [their] achievements and noble qualities.” And I want to challenge you to take them into your hearts as objects “of extreme admiration and devotion.”
A) How many of you can place who Crispus was, much less his heroic deed? We find the events leading up to his mention in Acts 18:1-7, and then a brief statement in Acts 18:8, “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household” (NKJV). Heroics? How so? Isn’t Paul the hero here? Consider the faith and courage, the sheer determination to do right, that Crispus must have had in order to be baptized.
B) Try to imagine what this conversion must have cost Crispus, what he knew it was going to cost him. Think what it would be like today if you were publicly charged with a reprehensible crime. Even before you had a chance to be tried and determined to be innocent or guilty, you would likely be shunned by your friends and colleagues, doubted by your family, feared by many, ridiculed by others, at risk of losing your source of income, watching your entire family subjected to ostracization.
Look what Crispus knew he was going to lose. He would certainly lose his position as leader of the Jewish synagogue. But as a Jew, his whole life would have been built around the synagogue. He would lose the respect of the community in which he lived and worked. He would lose virtually all of his friends and many of his relatives. His means of support would likely be at risk. He would in essence be an outcast from the society of which he was a pillar and leader on the day before.
C) Crispus was a hero! He had the courage and the faith in God to determine that he was going to let nothing in this world stand in his way in his service to God. This is a conviction and courage that we need to emulate. We must determine in our own hearts that we will let nothing in this world deter us from doing God’s will.