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But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. Romans 5:8

A friend of mine recently ran the Boston Marathon. He’s the kind of guy who takes ‘running to the store’ very seriously! The Boston Marathon has always been considered the granddaddy of all marathons but this year’s marathon drew even more attention because of the bombing in 2013. That event shook the nation much like, although on a smaller scale, the horror of 911.

Whenever a tragedy of that scope comes out, stories of heroic measures by others come to trescuedhe forefront. Stories of men and women who risk their lives to save the lives of other people who are often total strangers. Tragically, those ‘heroes’ often give their lives so others can live.

We all have our heroes. Some of our heroes are athletes or others who, because of their abilities are noteworthy. Other people are heroes because they set aside their own comfort and safety for others. Sometimes they are just people who are at the right place (or wrong place as it may be) and act sponta
neously. Often times they are innocent bystanders just ‘doing the right thing.

Sometimes heroic measures are driven by a need to serve, but ultimately heroic measures are driven by love either for mankind in general (the sanctity of life) or individually (love). Love, at whatever level, is perhaps the biggest reason for people to become heroes.

Heroes generally have four things in common:

First, heroes are known for their sacrificial actions. Many heroes have died saving others with no thought of their own personal safety. Jesus is my hero because he gave the greatest sacrifice anyone can give by giving his own life for me. We know the depth of someone’s love for us by what they are willing to sacrifice for us. Jesus gave everything for me.

Second, heroes often act without regard for whether the person they are working to save is deserving of saving or not. Police officers, Firefighters and medical personnel don’t check a person’s background before risking their lives to save them. They realize time is of essence. The other questions can be dealt with later. That’s the kind of love my hero, Jesus Christ, has. His love, true love is unconditional. Romans 5:8 tells me that God demonstrated his love for me while I was still a sinner! I don’t deserve his love, but he died for me anyway.

Third, we benefit greatly from heroes actions. We see many examples of that when people risk their lives at accident scenes to save total strangers, and then disappear into the crowd. The one saved benefits from a second chance at life. The hero may go unnoticed!

1 John 3:1-3 tells me the benefits I receive because of Jesus. It says, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Lastly, heroes give us freedom. The men and women of our armed forces are excellent human examples of heroes that give us the freedoms we enjoy in this nation. The amount of love a person has for you is proportionate to the freedom you receive from that love. Jesus resurrection gives me complete freedom from guilt and sin because of his great love. The mark of the freedom I have in Jesus is inner joy that nothing or no one can take from me. Jesus’ joy is unconditional.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for being my hero. Thank you for the many blessings you have given me. I am so undeserving of anything you have given me yet you give freely. Help me to live in the freedom and joy you give through your forgiveness. In your name I pray, Amen.


LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 there was a huge spike in church attendance. People that hadn’t been to church in years walked through the doors to heal, to comfort one another, to pray for our nation.

When the earthquake hit Haiti, the hurricanes hit New Orleans, the Tsunami hit Southeast Asia people sent food, money and teams to the affected areas to heal (emotionally and medically) comfort one another and provide housing or whatever else was needed to lift the survivors of these natural disasters to their feet again.

Throughout history the ravages of war and the pain of natural disasters has awakened in us the desire to help. Our hearts melt at the sight of starving orphans. Suddenly we find an extra $10.00 to send through our cell phone bill to help people we never have met.

What is it within us that drives those feelings of compassion and assistance? It’s the realization that we are needed and that we need each other. Deep inside each of us there is a desire to feel like the action you take, no matter how small, will somehow make a difference in the lives of others. Suddenly it doesn’t matter what social class you are in or what the color of your skin is. Sexual orientation isn’t as important as making sure a cardboard shack is replaced by suitable housing and clean water. Enemies set aside their differences at least long enough to meet the needs of those affected by the disaster.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that success in meeting these challenges requires teamwork. One person going to Haiti would have accomplished nothing. One fireman going into the flaming towers would have been fruitless. One $10.00 gift to help the famine ravaged parts of the world would be a ridiculous attempt to help.

Why is it then that when it comes to Spiritual warfare we Christ-followers think we can wage battle alone? We divide ourselves according to denominational affiliation. We camp out on issues about how to worship or how and when to baptize. Some of us are so tired of the bickering that we give up on getting together with other Christ-followers all together. The statement, “I can be a Christian without going to church” is absolutely correct. You can also go to battle alone, but you won’t last long.

Before he went to the cross to die for you Jesus only asked his Father for one thing: UNITY. He knew that in order for us to live strong lives that withstand the forces of evil we would need each other. The body of Christ isn’t a building or a denomination or a set of rules. The body of Christ is a living organism that needs the nourishment of fellowshipping with each other to grow strong.

As Christ-followers we need to make sure that our ‘churches’ show the grace and love of our Lord Jesus to every person that enters our doors. We need to be an active part of our community by being a ‘church without walls’ and doing all we do in the name of Christ (not our church!).

We need each other. We need each other for our own physical, emotional and spiritual strength. The people around us need to see the love of Jesus by the things we do and say to draw them into relationship with the one who can comfort and heal for eternity.

PRAYER: Father, I love to come to your house to worship and learn from your word. I confess to you that often times I look more for what I can gain from the experience that what I can do for others and for you. Forgive me for selfishly looking for my own comfort at the expense of others. Empower me with your Spirit to begin today to make my church a place where all people feel welcome. I need you and they need me. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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