Eighty-one years ago this month, in the summer of 1940, Western civilization was threatened with defeat. Liberty, the principle on which it rests, was menaced by a man who despised freedom. Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany, had conquered Western Europe. He challenged Britain, the last outpost of resistance, to submit. He believed Britain would, and with good reason. Its Army was beaten, and its Navy and Air Force were under attack by the all-conquering German Luftwaffe. He believed there was no one who would oppose his demands.
But he was wrong. One man would, and did. Winston Churchill, recently appointed prime minister, defied Hitler. He rejected surrender. He insisted that Britain could fight on. In a series of magnificent speeches appealing to his people's courage and historic greatness, he carried Britain with him. The country rallied to his call, held steady under a concentrated air bombardment, manned the beaches Hitler planned to invade, and took strength in the struggle of "The Few," Britain's fighter pilots, in their eventually victorious battle against Hitler's air power.
By the end of 1940, by the narrowest of margins, Britain had survived. Hitler's plan was flawed, never to recover, and the Western world lived to fight another day. Western civilization had found a new hero in crisis whose example would lead to its eventual triumph.
God is always looking for heroes, for people willing to accept the challenge of following Christ. This is never easy, but the proclamation of God's kingdom always involves more than just mere words -- it always calls for clear and concrete action. As we just celebrated on Independence Day, we would do well to remember that kingdom-building actions have been performed by both the church and our nation throughout history.
God's heroes, if they're going to be found anywhere at all, are going to be found right here. We live in a day when there are always going to be people calling us to scale back, don't reach out, don't risk anything, and for heaven's sake, make sure it's going to be easy to pay for. We need some new heroes, folks. We need them in our nation, and we certainly need them in the church.
God's heroes, I believe, are going to be found among men and women who respond to the call of Christ. They will be found among ordinary people willing to take the risks and do extraordinary work; among people who depend more on divine authority than on human ability.
It's up to us -- it's up to you -- to be that kind of hero. And to make your mark.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas