I can remember getting baptized as a kid. It was a great evening. My sister and two cousins all were baptized by our uncle, who is a Baptist minister. We sang "If I Were A Butterfly", got dunked in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then enjoyed a fish fry in the fellowship hall. Good moment. Within five years, I was avoiding church whenever possible, stoned out of my mind, and holding séances in the local graveyard. "If I Were A Butterfly" no longer got any airplay on my Walkman. Jesus didn't get any of my time. No matter how hard I tried (while stoned out of my gourd) to convince my buddies that God was real, I wasn't living like He was real. I wasn't following.
Twelve years later, I got a wake-up call from Jesus saying "You say you follow Me, but you don't." That hurt. It hurt because the message came directly from Him. Not from a pastor or a friend or through a tract. The message was suddenly just there in my head. I repented and began to follow Jesus.
You may know someone who no longer goes to church. They sat with you for years making Arks of macaroni and laughing at Veggie Tales. Perhaps they were baptized. Perhaps there was a fish fry too. Something happened down the road though and they're no longer following Jesus. They no longer identify with Christ. They've turned to some other way. The money way. The family way. The Buddhist way. The Atheist way. The political way. They are on a different path now and there is something or someone other than Jesus leading the way.
People do walk away from Jesus and it's the reason a church leader wrote a letter to a group of Christians way back when (we call it The Book of Hebrews). People were leaving Jesus. They had stopped going to church meetings. They were at the potluck one week and weren't seen after that. They'd been seen singing the first century equivalent of "If I Were A Butterfly", but they weren't singing it anymore and they wouldn't hang out with those who did. It was over. They had been called away by something else.
In the case of the letter to the Hebrews, these people wanted to return to a safer way of life. Hanging out in a group of persecuted people wasn't worth it to them. People were going back to safe old Judaism. They could live with relative safety under Roman rule as orthodox Jews. They could return to the families who had cut them off when they started to follow "The Way". They could once again buy and sell in the marketplace. The grass seemed greener on the other side of the street, so they crossed over.
Currently, North American Christians don't live under these kinds of threats. We are more likely to be drawn away for other reasons. Those ways are myriad. The purpose of Hebrews isn't to cover all those possibilities. The purpose is to point us all back to Jesus and encourage us to stick with Him. Stick with The Way. Hebrews points out that there's no better option than Jesus. No angel, prophet, or priest is better. No guru, politician, or lover could be a better guide on life's journey. No one could possibly understand you better than the One who chose to become like you. We can forget these things when the lure of money or position or promise of ease tempts us. Many have also walked away for the promise of love. There are good things in this world for which people will leave Jesus. That's why Hebrews is so deliberate to point out Christ's superiority even to good things like Moses, prophets, and priests.
The author of Hebrews likens our spiritual journey to a race and encourages us to keep running. When you fall, stagger back up, wipe off your wounds, and keep running. Don't look back, but keep your eyes forward on the Author and Finisher of our faith. The One who is above all. He leads us to the Heavenly Jerusalem. Running the race requires the grace of God and the encouragement of the saints. We need both Jesus and each other in order to keep running. I hope this series in Hebrews will ground those who are drifting, strengthen those who are weakening, and encourage us all to keep running this race.
To win this race is to finish.
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
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