There are some questions that make us think about our priorities and values. You know, the “What three things would you take with you into the bomb shelter?” sort of question.
“Who are your heroes?” is just such a question. Leaving aside the obvious answer, whose example do you aspire to? Whose life inspires you to great heights? When I begin to list the great souls who are my heroes, I find that they are a varied bunch: John Calvin, Charles Simeon, Robert Frost, Ben Crenshaw and the editorial staff of The Economist—to name a few.
Recently, a new hero was added to my pantheon. He’s just an ordinary guy, in many ways. I’ll call him Joe (because he’d be embarrassed if I used his real name).
Joe is an adult convert to Christianity. He’s a quiet sort of man, with a wife and kids, who takes his faith seriously. God captured him later in life, and Joe has little of the easy familiarity with God that so often accompanies having grownup with Christianity. The gospel has had a profound and character-changing effect on his life. He’s quite ready to tell anyone who’s prepared to listen about the changes Jesus has brought about in his life.
At Joe’s work, he became aware that his bosses were engaged in some corrupt practices. Because Joe was involved in the public image of the company as an associate, he would have been implicated in the corruption, even though he wasn’t directly involved. He decided to tell his bosses that he could not be associated with corrupt dealings because God’s name would be dishonoured.
The next day, he did just that. He told his two bosses that he knew what had been going on, and that it was wrong. He told them that he could not continue to work for them with a clear conscience and that he would have to resign immediately.
The two men were surprised and a little bemused. They knew that Joe was a Christian—everyone in the company did—but they thought that this was going a bit far.
“Look, Joe”, they said. “You don’t have to worry about it. We know you don’t agree, but we’ll make sure that you aren’t involved. We just won’t do any of those things when you’re around.”
“I’m sorry”, said Joe. “You don’t understand. I’m not pretending to be a moral policeman or anything, but I cannot be part of this. Many of our contacts know I’m a Christian, and to be connected with this would dishonour God’s name. I’ll have to resign.”
They accepted Joe’s resignation. The corrupt practice continued. With a wife and kids to support and financial commitments, Joe was out of a job.
The story doesn’t end there. A number of weeks passed without work, and Joe’s assets slowly dwindled. On the day after they ran out, God provided a new job for Joe.
And there’s another twist to this very ordinary but remarkable story. On the day that Joe resigned, he took a colleague to an evangelistic breakfast. That man became a Christian.
The words of another hero spring to mind: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see you good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”