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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Right Kind of Heroes

Veteran's Day and the 234th "birthday" of the U.S. Marine Corps are this week, following closely at the heels of the Ft. Hood shooting. I think this week we ought to direct our attention to the soldiers in our lives, whether they are the kind who use weapons or those who use words in pulpits.

As the Nation Goes, so Follows the Army...

I've spoken before on the armed forces, and how much our servicemen need our support and moral guidance as they do their jobs every day. I think this week should remind us how important it is to pray for our servicemen and women, counsel them and teach them about the Bible, and even to witness to them (evangelize them) when we get the chance. Every army needs a commander. Above human commanders, our military men and women need God's guidance, protection, and moral direction.

There's something else to consider this week, too.

Who are our heroes? What is gaining our approval? Whole peoples are judged by their armies, because the morality of an army's actions reflects what its individuals have been taught at home. Our service men and women are taking cues from the rest of society on how they can act and what isn't allowed. Are we supporting the people who clamor the loudest, who don't respect boundaries, or who have the biggest clout (physically, monetarily, etc.), or are we celebrating heroes who are kind, fair, moral, and law-abiding? Just turn on your television and you will have your answer.

What kind of people would you like to see in the military? I'd like to see men and women I can trust not to harm me, who will draw respect, not shame, for their nation and their countrymen, and who love God first. The only way I know to achieve this is to pray for a spiritual revival and model the kind of behavior I'd like to see.

Two Kinds of Heroes

Not too long ago, in a land not too far away, two armies gathered on hills opposite each other, with a valley between them. Every morning, the most celebrated hero of one army would walk out into the plain and stand there, mocking the other army, insulting their beliefs, and bragging on how, through his might, he was going to destroy their whole culture and humiliate their God. He seemed fully-capable of backing his words, too. He was over nine feet tall, and his armor weighed over a hundred pounds. He had one challenge: send out your own hero to meet me in battle, and whoever wins will lead his army to crush the other.

This giant man was the world's idea of a hero. He was bigger and stronger than anyone who opposed him. He spoke louder than anyone around him, and through the promise of pain and humiliation, he had thousands of people as his captive audience. People were awed by him, but their respect was really motivated by fear. He didn't respect other people's culture, their values, or their religion, and because he was unchallenged, his people took their cues from him and joined him in his mockery and disrespect. He was in this for personal prestige, and everyone with him were willing to take advantage of the opportunity. They didn't care who got hurt, because they were confident no one would resist them.

On the other side of the valley, all the listeners were inclined to agree with their enemies that might makes a winner, and their strength to resist the enemy drained away because of that fear. Reflecting the culture that had raised them, they had forgotten about their history with God, and how God had helped them to defeat other foes who mocked Him and His ability to save. They were scared to death of this bully, and they trembled in their armor. If it really had been a battle between two physical powers, the enemy had defeated them already.

Then along came this teenage kid, the kind of hero we should follow instead, and he saw through the threats and the size of the other warrior. He judged him, not based on his size, but based on his words, and he saw that they were actually powerless. He still remembered God's power, and he was absolutely convinced that God wasn't going to put up with mockery. God wouldn't allow His good name, and the behavior He desired from His people, to be mocked and trampled upon. So this kid accepted the challenge and with God's help, he miraculously defeated a foe at least twice his size, strength, and experience.

The moral of this story, which is my word for the armed forces and other "spiritual soldiers" out there this week, is that with God on your side, guiding your every move whether on the field or off it, you will prove your enemies to be all bluff and threats, with no power. Don't tremble at public opinion, just do what is right. Don't look for glory, just obey God.
"When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran." (1 Samuel 17: 51 NIV)