I enjoyed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) so much that it didn’t hit me till later that all the main heroes in the story die. In fact one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is Jyn and Cassian dying in each other’s arms on the beach of Scarif as the blast from the Death Star overwhelms them. They die not knowing if their sacrifice would accomplish what they wanted. Yes, they had managed to transmit the plans of the Death Star to the Rebel Fleet but they could not know if that would be enough to get the Death Star destroyed. They didn’t get to see Star Wars 4: A New Hope (1977). They and the other heroes in the movie gave their lives without any guarantees that their sacrifice would accomplish their purposes. They did it because it was the right thing to do.
I couldn’t help but think of the gallery of faith heroes in Hebrews 11.
I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32b–40 NIV)
The gallery of faith mentions those who acted in faith and lived to see the vindication of their actions. But the gallery also includes many who suffered for their faith and many who died not seeing the fruits of their sacrifice. They acted in faith, doing what was right.
But the writer of Hebrews is also clear that God had not forgotten them. Indeed there was a Sabbath, and a land, a better resurrection that awaited them at the end of all things. Their sacrifice was not in vain though they didn’t experience the vindication of their costly actions in this life.
This then is God’s call to us — regardless of what does or does not happen, we are to do the right thing in our lifetime. This is a tough call in an impatient society that wants results yesterday, and a highly pragmatic society that wants to know “will this work?” or “will we succeed?” before they embark on a course of action. I am not saying that we don’t ask tough questions before we decide on a course of action. We need to be good stewards of our resources, indeed of our lives. But there will be times when we do something because it is the right thing to do and trust that the Author of life will interweave our actions into an eternal tapestry that ends with the triumph of good and God.
Indeed, “rebellions are based on hope”. Christ came to initiate a rebellion against sin and Satan and death. Followers of Jesus are part of this rebellion and we need hope, perhaps now more than ever. We have one key advantage. Our hope is not a romantic leap into the darkness. Jesus died and rose again. Our hope has an anchor. Many questions remain, but in the resurrection of Christ from the dead we know the tide has turned and we have real hope for how things will turn out in the end.
As we come to the end of 2016 and step into 2017, what has God called you to do? Where has He called you to serve? How will you invest your life?
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)