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Is that Superman standing by Mary in the stable?

December 1 FR Letter Header

Is that Superman standing by Mary in the stable?

I always wanted to be a hero. But I'm NOT going to ask you to be a hero...  

As a child, I was profoundly unheroic: a quiet, skinny kid with pencil ­thin arms and a paper-thin chest. I wore glasses and was a total bookworm. When I disobeyed my parents, they would ground me for a week...from reading. I was 100% pure Grade A nerd.

But when Christopher Reeve's Superman swooped into the theaters, my eight-year-old imagination was captured! I wanted to fly, bend steel with my bare hands, feel bullets bounce off my chest, and I wanted pectorals big enough to handle that giant red "S." At eight, my chest could only accommodate skinny letters like a lowercase "l."

Mostly, I longed to do something. But I'm NOT going to ask you to do a "big thing"... 

Superman always faced high-stakes moments: good vs. evil, fate-of-the ­planet stuff. His life was not trifled away on a Kansas farm. (Did I mention I grew up on a farm?) His powers weren't wasted on small stuff. He did things that mattered, and though my idols changed—next came Luke Skywalker, then Indiana Jones—my desires did not. I dreamed of doing great deeds, and I wanted to be a hero.

So when I read Mark 2, I wanted to be the roof-crashers. You know: the four men carrying the mat. Their friend is paralyzed, and these men have heard the young rabbi in town can heal. But the house where Jesus is teaching is packed. They can't get through. Will they give up? No!

One guy speaks up, "Guys, how can we get Buddy to Jesus? Brainstorm." (Every friend group has a leader, Mr. Let's-Make-A-Plan, probably a firstborn.) The others chime in: "Pull a fire alarm?" No. "Ask politely?" No. Every group also has a maverick, Mr. Won't-Play-By-The-Rules, definitely a middle child. He speaks up, "Dudes, I've got it! Let's knock a hole in the roof and drop him through."

And they do! Like action movie stars, they rip a hole in the roof, lower their buddy at Jesus' feet, and Jesus heals him. It's a great story, and today preachers preach "Wreck the Roof' sermons: "Be like these guys! Do whatever it takes to get people to Jesus." I can't be Superman, but maybe I can be a Roof Wrecker. They deserve capes-they're bold! Dramatic! Heroes!

The church needs Roof Wreckers. But I'm NOT going to ask you to be so dramatic...

A John Maxwell sermon cured me of my hero complex.

Preaching on Mark 2, Maxwell titled his message, "Who Patched the Roof?" Good question. After all, this homeowner looks up to see his ceiling being tom apart. What's he supposed to do? "He calls his State Farm agent to see if this is covered. 'Jesus is here,' he explains. 'Can we call it an act of God?"'

After all the excitement-roof-crashers, miracle, lame man walking, crowd rejoicing-who patched up the roof? After feeding the 5,000, Jesus made sure the leftovers were picked up. Surely he cared about fixing this roof mess. Did Jesus call some carpenter buddies?

The text doesn't say, but John Maxwell's right: "It's more exciting to knock holes in roofs than to patch them up later. But someone has to do the mundane after the miracle. Faithfulness and dependability are this person's trademarks. When the shouting subsides, he picks up the pieces and does the dirty work."

The church needs Roof Fixers, too. Did you know there's one in the first Christmas story? 

Joseph was a Roof Fixer.

In Scripture, Joseph never utters a word. He's behind the scenes: a simple carpenter who takes care of the details. Joseph warms up the donkey for Mary on a cold day, packs the suitcase for Bethlehem, pays the taxes, gets a map to Egypt. Later, Joseph puts food on the table and keeps a roof over Jesus' head-making sure Messiah makes it to manhood to fulfill his mission.

Joseph's not a center-stage hero—that's not Superman standing by Mary in the stable. But even heroes have sidekicks: Batman has Robin, Sherlock Holmes has Watson. He's the ordinary guy who does little things so the hero can do big things, and like every sidekick, Joseph plays a part in saving the world.

That's a Roof Fixer, and THAT'S what I'm going to ask you to be. 

Here's why: OCC's main classroom building—the Missions Building—needs a new roof. In 1998, the third story was added atop the building to provide more classrooms, and its roof has never been replaced. Twenty-five years for a roof is pretty good! But shingles are cracking, and water is getting through.

The cost of this new roof project is $33,000. Would you consider a gift to replace the roof on the Missions Building?*

Every Monday through Friday, hundreds of OCC students sit underneath that roof, and like the lame man in Mark 2, they sit at the feet of Jesus. They hear his teaching, experience his power, and their lives are never the same.

I love bold Roof Wreckers. But if Joseph had still been alive, here's my hunch: when the Mark 2 crowd left, the old carpenter would've quietly climbed atop that house to patch the roof. Why? Because without Roof Fixers, the crowd couldn't come back the next day to hear Jesus teach.

Without Roof Fixers, the church would be a leaky mess, and it will be Roof Fixers who help our OCC students soak up the words of Jesus...without getting soaked. Would you pray about a generous year-end gift to put a roof over their heads? 

You remember my little-kid-longing to make a difference? By God's grace, I do get to be part of a world­-saving endeavor. I get to preach! In churches of 10 and 10,000, in Japan and Joplin and Nicaragua and New Mexico, I've proclaimed God's Word, and I've seen sinners repent and souls saved. And I get to train the next generation to preach! OCC grads have taken the gospel to all 50 states and over 100 countries—that's fate-of-the ­planet stuff. I should feel like Superman!

But I'm 54 now, and I know: no matter how many people I preach to or students I teach, I will always be "an unworthy servant." (Luke 17:10) I'm just an ordinary, fallen man, and I know why Paul—after thirty years of doing great deeds—still said as an old man, "I'm the chief of sinners." (1 Tim 1: 16)

I'm no hero, and my chest still isn't big enough to wear that giant red "S."

But the good news is: there is One who can. The "S" isn't for Superman. It's for Savior, and that little baby in Bethlehem was born to save the world. Christ is the only true Hero. The rest of us—whether we're center stage or backstage, Roof Wreckers or Roof Fixers—are all just sidekicks.

So thank you tor considering a gift, and thanks especially for being a faithful sidekick. As you partner in the work of OCC, you are—like Joseph—playing a part in saving the world.

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor

P.S. I don't have a cape to give you, but I'm "super" grateful for you. From all of us at OCC: merry Christmas!

*NOTE: Any gifts given above needed amount will be used for similar campus projects.