What do you call a hero before he’s a hero? Pre-hero? Hero-to-be? Steve Rogers?
I’ve been slowly making my way through Shane Claiborne’s book Irresistible Revolution for the past few months—a snail’s pace, really, so that I can actually ingest and process the intensity!–and I came across a quote a couple days ago that I felt so compelled to share that I squeezed it into a tweet. He wrote:
I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives….but what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death?
My spirit instantly cried, ‘Yes!’ and in that moment, I was reminded of something I heard a few years ago. I used to lead a schools team in the Midlands and our school required that my team and I attend several safe-guarding seminars regarding various topics, one of which was about extremist groups and how to notice if young people are getting caught up in radicalist ideologies. The speaker said something that stuck with me, that young people are often attracted to extremist groups because they want a cause, they want something bigger than themselves to be part of, they want something to give their lives to.
In March last year, the organisation Growing Leaders published an interesting article that supports this theory entitled Five Reasons Extremists Groups are Attractive to Youth. Two of the reasons were really interesting to me. They claim that young people are drawn to extremist groups because of the offer to become someone significant and the challenge to invest their lives in something bigger than themselves.
Hearing the seminar speaker’s statements that day really challenged my thinking. It convicted me that we the Church should be offering young people the chance to participate in something bigger than themselves, something that gives them a sense of significance and purpose, something that they too can live and die for. Personally, that’s one thing I recognize that I myself love about living for God—giving my life for something bigger, greater, better than myself and knowing that I have a significant role to play, that my life has meaning and I have a purpose that stretches beyond me.
So, as Christians and those who know that what young people are looking for can be found within the Kingdom, maybe today we pray for the pre-heroes, the heroes-to-be. Let’s pray for those who will go all-in and give their lives fully for King and Kingdom, the ones who will not love their lives even unto death but will live for a cause so much greater than themselves, willing to lay down their lives, just as Jesus did, for the sake of the Kingdom, out of love for God and others. Let’s pray for the heroes in the making, the spiritual giants who are currently being bullied and struggling with self-harm, for those who feel unnoticed and invisible, for those who allow themselves to be swept along with the crowd but are desperate to break free to be their own person living with greater purpose. Let’s pray for them not to fight against flesh and blood but to stand against the powers and principalities of this age. Let’s pray that they would understand the reality of the world that we live in, the constant war between good and evil and let’s pray that they would experience the reality for themselves that they are–that WE ARE–more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
There are heroes amongst us, the young people in our midst, those who will respond to the challenge and those who will embrace the adventure and the risks that come with belonging to and fighting for King and Kingdom, those who will rise to be the great men and women of the Church in our day, the heroes who will be included in the eternal hall of faith. Let’s pray them in!
Written by Amanda Porter.
Amanda Porter is the Communications Assistant for Pais Great Britain, and has served on Pais for three and a half years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from Michigan College in Tennessee. She loves Jesus, coffee, languages, and traveling, and has a continuously growing heart for Europe.