“Excelsior!”

by Pastor Mark Jordan

“Slaves, obey your masters on earth in everything. Don’t just obey like people pleasers when they are watching. Instead, obey with the single motivation of fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:22-24, (CEB)

We lost a cultural icon on Monday, Stan Lee, the co-creator of most of our beloved Marvel Comics superheroes. He helped bring to life characters like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk. As Stan Lee created these characters, he wanted to show diversity in backgrounds, demographics, weaknesses, and abilities. His desire was to tap into the unique personalities and powers that everyone has, piquing creativity, but also motivating people to be better in the real world.

As a fan of his heroes and stories, I think that’s what captures my heart. I am inspired by the service and sacrifice of the heroes where they must put others first in order to save the day — even for some of the more vain characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man and Dr. Strange. This is because they are working for a higher goal and striving for a deeper purpose. They are compelled by service and sacrifice, even in the most dire of circumstances.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this in today’s passage. He taught about serving God by serving others. He put the emphasis on doing things for people, knowing that it is about connecting others to the service and sacrifice of Jesus, our ultimate hero. He pointed out that the reward for heroism isn’t in fame and fortune, but in knowing the truth Jesus taught that whatever we do, even for the least, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40).

Stan Lee had an awesome quote about heroism; he said, “Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them – even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” These qualities can be seen in our favorite comic book and movie heroes, but also in those who know the power of sacrifice and service for God by serving others.

I want to leave you with a final thought. Stan Lee was known for his motto, “Excelsior!” This is defined as onward and upward toward glory. There is so much to glean from this as we think about how our service and sacrifice helps move us onward and upward toward glory, but God’s glory. Think about these words from Philippians 3:12-14, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (MSG).

God is beckoning us onward and upward to Jesus. May we show a willingness to heroically serve and share God by serving others, not expecting a reward, save for glorifying God.

Excelsior!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for being a hero for me in Jesus. Help me to look at my own personal service and sacrifice as a way to show others your glory. I want to live upward and onward for your glory, and I lift this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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