Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Ordinary Hero (Chapters 17-20)

It has hit that point in the year where I am thinking about the future. I’m thinking about 2011. Today, at the end of August, I went looking for a 2011 diary! I’m thinking about teaching and training programs, about administration and start of year activities. It’s so easy to do. I get very busy very easily. I am busy in advance for 2011!

In this last section of The Ordinary Hero, Tim Chester draws our attention to the real future. The future beyond 2011. The future I should be thinking about! He draws our attention to the eternal future that Christians can look to because of Christ. And Tim shows us that it is the resurrection that gives us the sure grounds for this hope.

In the resurrection, death gives way to life. In the resurrection, death is vanquished as God raises Jesus from the dead. In the resurrection, eternal life begins. Jesus’ resurrections shows us the hope we can have if we follow him.

This is an amazing hope, isn’t it? It’s so much greater than 2011 and whatever programs I might run. The prospect of eternity with God and without sin makes suffering, sickness, and sadness now seem insignificant. I’m sure you’ll agree that this hope should transform us.

But what does it look like to be shaped by this hope? What does the hope of the resurrection look like in my life? Well, these final chapters beg the question, ‘can people tell that I hope in the resurrection?’

Can people tell by my life that I hope in something greater than what I can attain in this world? Can they tell that my priorities are governed by something (someone!) outside myself? Is the way that I live consistent with placing my hopes firmly in the eternal future? Or do I just look like everyone else? Does my life look the same as someone whose hope is only in this life?

Well, the antidote Tim offers to distraction is turning our eyes back, over and over again, to the hope we have in the cross and resurrection of Jesus. He calls us to ponder our great God revealed in Christ - to treasure God and his plans - to serve God and his kingdom - and to therefore grow in loving God.

What does this look like? In the very last chapter, Tim shows us ‘ordinary heroes’ - those who serve Jesus faithfully and patiently while they wait for their eternal hope to be realised. Tim gives a lovely example of his mum, who patiently awaits eternity with her saviour, whose life has been shaped by serving God and his people. It’s pretty touching to see the way that her faithful witness has shaped the life of her son and many others.

Hearing of her example, I found it so helpful to be reminded that I am not called to be remarkable, to be the best. The world tells me that I need to achieve and attain, because this is all there is. But the cross tells me to serve others and hold out the forgiveness of Jesus to them. The cross and resurrection of Jesus tell me to look forward beyond this life to something much better. I don’t need to attain, to be brilliant. I will do very well to be one of these faithful, seldom noticed saints, who loves God and his people. I will do well to yearn until my last breath to see my saviour face to face. That’s a great plan for the meanwhile, while I look forward to the future.

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