It was heartwarming yesterday to see and hear all the people thanking, encouraging and recognizing the veterans all around our lives that have served or are serving selflessly in our nation’s military. Veterans’ Day is a great time to take stock in the incredible treasure of real heroes we have around us. Thank you, veterans, for your service, and we mean that in the most real and genuine way possible. Your sacrifice for our way of life is humbling.
In the wake of all the good will and thankfulness, though, it got me to thinking about the heroes of our time. On most days, many of us do not thank veterans. If we were being truly honest, the majority of us would probably have to admit on most routine days we rarely think about them at all. But, in their place, there are others we esteem, we hold up, we place high value and regard upon. And in many cases, they are not worthy … actors and athletes, singers and dancers, pundits and maybe even politicians.
“Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness“ —Matthew 4:10
We like heroes. We like to look upward. We start early, as little boys and girls, looking up to men and women who do amazing things on grass and turf and hardwood and ice. As we get older, we shift our “looking up” to those who do amazing things in classrooms, board rooms, laboratories, legislatures … to those who speak and create and negotiate, to those who research and discover and write.
There’s nothing wrong with honoring and admiring other people. Something is wrong, though, when honoring or admiration becomes worship—when we devote our lives to becoming just like our heroes. You see, heroic images are false. They are false because they’re incomplete. Heroic images portray the good and obscure the bad. We think, “he’s got it together”—“great job, great wife, great bank account, great house” … “must be nice.”
What we don’t see is what’s broken. Something always is. In James 3:2 it says: “For we all stumble in many ways.” Maybe it’s what was sacrificed in order to achieve the heroic image. Not realizing we’re misled, though, we decide to chase their images, to model our lives after theirs. Not realizing we’re misled, we end up imitating their brokenness.
When we worship heroes, we do like the ancient pagans who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The truth is, no person, past or present, is worthy of our worship … except one. The One.
So I challenge you today to ask yourself a question: Who are your heroes? Have you ever walked the line between admiration and hero worship? Have you ever held another (broken) person in too high esteem? If you’ve crossed that line, simply confess it to God and commit to worshiping no man but Jesus. He IS worthy.
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