Duration 7 Weeks
The series is about God entering into our lives and being present in the difficult times. We, as Christians, aren't called away from the difficult times in the world; but rather, Christ/God/His Church is present with us.
Christ was made low, like humans. He came into the world to sanctify all people. He could have destroyed it and been done with us all – the Flood. He could have stayed far off and sent another prophet – Isaiah. He could have waved a “magic wand” but He chose to show love, to all. He chooses to take the form of a man and be with us, be our brother. He chooses to link arms and join with us, even die for us. Because, love isn’t shown from afar, it shows up, it marches, it sits at counters and sacrifices for others. Love is a verb!
The Biblical concept of “hardening hearts” is a shutting down of God’s influence in our life. Israelites did this by creating and worshiping a golden calf in the Wilderness. “Today” our hearts are hardened by becoming disillusioned. We take God for granted, treating baptism as an insurance policy instead of an invitation. Expecting that God will forgive and do my bidding; or worse, we become jaded and think that God doesn’t care. We can forget who God is and whose we are and go through the motions. We, Christians, are the continuation of God's great plan. God sends His people out of Egypt and makes His people a great light for the world to see. This continues “today.” Today we are the light bringers. At baptism God enlists us to bring our light into the world. Into the unique place we work and play and live. We get to pray out loud. We get to show people how God is working in their life. We get to invite all people into the house of God to experience the love of God and we don’t have to worry if they are godly. We get to be the very presence of God, “partners with Christ” wherever we find ourselves.
Christians are hypocrites. What we believe is in writing. We fall short of that expectation. That tension between how we are supposed to act and how we actually conduct ourselves is the life of a Christian, and makes us hypocrites – and that’s a good thing. We don’t want to pretend that we’re perfect because there is no way that’s going to happen. What is better is that we keep trying. Recognizing our failings and seeking forgiveness. In this way we are living like our Lord. Jesus was perfect but did not glorify Himself. Jesus is the Great High Priest appointed by God to that position forever. He is of a bona fide pedigree: of the Order of Melchizedek. He has every reason to say “look at me” “I am special.” He could have even avoided death but instead he submitted.
Our submission is admission. To confess. To recognize that we aren’t perfect and then to come, again and again, back to Christ. To say to Christ and anyone who’s looking “I have failed to live the life I want to live.” But instead of lowering the bar, instead of accepting things for how they are — we seek Christ and His reconciliation. We come back to His table and receive His Body and Blood and are made clean, if only for the time it takes us to get back to our seats. Are we able to not sin long enough to get back to our seats? The purpose of a Christian life isn’t about how perfect we are, it's about how “real” we are when we fall short.
During the pandemic we have had to give up on gathering together in person. Yet, we are called to be a gathered people — to congregate as a people of God and worship, praise and gather around the table to be fed. Then, we go out of the doors to share this message of hope we have with the world. That is what it means to truly be a Christ-centered community. Now that we are slowly gathering back together, how can we support one another? How can we encourage one another? How can we be the church in the world that God has called us to be?
Have you ever heard that faith is belief in action? This chapter in Hebrews outlines a number of heroes of the Bible. All of these heroes of faith struggled with taking the first step. And yet all of them changed the world. What would it mean for us to step out in faith, even when we’re not sure where that foot will land? God calls us to put our belief into action. It is in that step that God guides our path.
What are some goals you have set for yourself? Exercise more? Read the Bible more? Pray more? Do you start to better yourself, but find you are your own worst enemy? We may give up on ourselves, but Jesus never does. Jesus has faith in us. And Jesus gives us power to run the race. Perseverance comes from two places — keeping our eyes set on Jesus and the community that encourages us.
Do you ever wake up feeling dreary because of the winter weather? Do you miss spring and summer? Sometimes, those outside factors can lead to feelings of emptiness. Is there any tangible way to find healing and wholeness in the Word? Here in Hebrews, we read that Jesus never gives up on us. Through our struggles Jesus is our helper. With the empowerment from Jesus, we can strive for wholeness.