Our society needs heroes.
In fact, I think it’s how God has wired us.
The human spirit is nourished by witnessing men and women who answer the call of God upon their lives and overcome amazing obstacles with unwavering faith.
I think this is partly why Jesus took on human nature and lived among us. God didn’t abandon us to figure life out on our own or leave us the Bible as a sterile rule sheet to follow. Instead, Jesus came as the living embodiment of Scripture. He walked among humanity, so we could see what it means to devote our lives to God as well as be inspired by His example.
That same process is at work in our hearts when we learn the story of other great men and women of the faith who accomplished something significant or who aspired to a cause that was bigger than themselves.
Who are your heroes in life?
I’m convinced that when you encounter greatness, you’ll be inspired to pursue greatness yourself.
That idea sets the stage for a powerful conversation we’ll be having over the next couple of days on our program with author, speaker, and radio host, Eric Metaxas. His latest two books highlight the lives of ordinary men and women who stepped forward into life’s challenges and changed the course of history.
Like Jackie Robinson, for example. Jackie became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. He was signed into the league by Branch Rickey, a league executive who was serious about his Christian faith and who believed Jackie Robinson’s faith would enable him to succeed as the first black ballplayer.
And so Jackie courageously stepped into the fray, gave up his right to defend himself, and withstood an avalanche of hateful discrimination. But he took the seemingly endless abuse for a greater cause – so that future African-Americans could receive fair and equitable treatment, not just in baseball, but in every area of life.
That is the very picture of nobility.
Similar stories of greatness could be told of men like William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and George Washington.
On that note, did you know that George Washington’s officers nearly led a military coup to enthrone him as king over America? As Eric Metaxas tells the story, Washington’s men were, essentially, offering him unlimited power. Who in the history of the world has ever turned that down?
And yet when Washington heard of their plans, he was enraged. He was sickened that his men would even consider such a scheme. For him, liberty wasn’t merely an ideal. He was committed with everything within him to establish it as a reality.
And because he refused to be raised up as a monarch, he changed the history of the world. If he had said yes, how many future generations, if any, would have seen the liberties of the United States of America that we’ve enjoyed for over 200 years?
Women, too, have played vital roles in displaying greatness and altering the course of history, among them Joan of Arc, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, and Rosa Parks.
Mother Theresa is arguably the most influential woman in modern times. Much of her greatness came from the fact that she served others in awe-inspiring ways, yet she was a real human being who struggled mightily with not feeling the presence and the love of God.
When she died, letters written by her came to light about that. Her words illustrated what is rightly understood as “real faith.” She held firmly to the belief that, whether she felt God’s love or not, He did love her.
Her testimony is amazing because it shows true faith is not about feelings. It’s about what is real and true. Her struggle encourages us all to believe that if a giant of faith like her could struggle, we all can rise to stronger faith in the midst of our doubts.
There is a thread of God’s grace and love throughout all of these stories, which is important to our understanding of achieving greatness. If you want to live a meaningful life, open yourself up to the One Who is the author of all greatness and all goodness.
Because He is the author of you, and He has very specific plans for how He wants to use you to impact the world around you.
I hope you’ll join us for yesterday’s and today’s programs “Learning from History’s Great Men and Women.” I believe this discussion will greatly benefit someone in your life who may be graduating high school or college in the coming days. Tune in on your local radio station. Find us online or listen on our free, downloadable mobile phone app.