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Hero For Christ: IntroductionWe live in a time that is hungry for heroes. Our world's need for extraordinary women and men is clear from the headlines in every newspaper: The advance of technology has multiplied our ability to destroy each other with weapons of war; we are facing an environmental crisis with the potential to threaten life as we know it; each day brings new clashes between people of different cultures and beliefs; and there are many places in the world where poverty and misery are getting worse, not better. In times such as these, we long for leaders with a heros combination of extraordinary abilities and exemplary moral courage.
Unfortunately, such people are hard to find. The idols of popular culture offer little in the way of inspiration, and our era's self-proclaimed Christian leaders have proven as violent, greedy, intolerant and hypocritical as anyone from outside the church. It has reached the point where many who are loudly and visibly associated with Christianity seem disconnected from the teachings of Christ in both what they preach and what they practice. Yet we find inspiration when we focus less on those who misuse Christ's teachings, and more on the great figures of history who succeeded in living Jesus' message as fully as they could.
The figures profiled in this book all began life as ordinary people, emerging from humble backgrounds and unexceptional circumstances. They were not necessarily smarter, stronger, or more talented than those around them. Nor were they what we think of as "better" than other people. Even the saints among them were not "saintlike" in the sense of being free from sin. They all had flaws, made mistakes, and gave in to temptations. Nearly all of them were criticized during their lives, and some continued to be criticized even after their deaths. Yet each one was transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ, and a subsequent decision to live in accordance with Jesus teachings. By their faith, rather than by their merits, they earned places among the great men and women of history. Some among them were revolutionaries, reformers, theologians or artists, who altered the fate of nations and the course of human thought and endeavor. Others were educators, ministers or entertainers, who touched peoples lives and hearts on smaller scales, but in ways that were equally profound.
Those included in this book are drawn from all periods of history and from nations and cultures all around the world. Each one embodied through his or her actions one or more of thirty featured lessons in heroism drawn from the life and message of Jesus Christ. By embracing those teachings, they became the living representations of these Christian virtues and values. It is the author's hope that by following in their footsteps each one among us can learn to serve our troubled world as a new "Hero for Christ."
It is important to note, however, that no change in behaviors or record of accomplishments can take the place of the relationship with God through Christ. For that reason, this book is not primarily aimed at a general audience, but at an audience of committed Christians looking for ways to live more in accordance with their beliefs. Every chapter in this book seeks to build upon that foundation, and should be read with that goal kept firmly in mind.
All Bible verses quoted in this book are from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and are original modernizations of the King James translation of the Bible (with occasional inspiration from other modern Bible translations). Readers are encouraged to check all quotes against their own favorite translation of the Bible.
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