(with Roger Kirby) Part 28 - Hebrews 10:32-39 Not everything goes well!
We are holy!
… recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:32-39)
There seems to be a strong tendency, at least in this country, to think that becoming a Christian and setting out to follow Jesus is a cure for all the problems we may otherwise have. That is not the way it works! Life for us is not likely to be as difficult as it was for the people this book is written to. We do not know exactly where they lived or what their background was ,but it is clear from this passage that not everything had been easy for them. They were probably Jews, since the book is called ‘to the Hebrews’ so they may well have had a lot of trouble from other Jews who did not believe in Jesus. Very soon after the foundation of the Christian church there was a lot of conflict between Jews and Christians, Paul being one of the chief culprits. Before long the Christians were thrown out of the synagogues all together. Then the ordinary citizens of the Roman empire will not have liked being shown up for the self centred and unpleasant people many of them were. It sounds as though the early Christians had a ministry to prisoners, which was not well received by other people. They had things stolen from their houses and could get no support from any judicial powers to recover what was stolen. Since this is going out all over the world some things like those may be your experience but that is not all that likely.
Our problems may be much more ordinary and personal. Perhaps they are physical, we simply are not well, or are suffering the products of old age and their tendency to drag us down. They may be social as we struggle with family, friends and enemies. They may be psychological and mental – there is no guarantee we will avoid such things by following Jesus. We should be better off as Christians as we turn away from bad habits of drinking or drugs and seek to follow a generally better life style. But following Jesus is not a general cure for all ills.
Why then should we follow Jesus? If not for our personal improvement, why? The answer is simple and devastating: because he is who he is. He is the Lord. He is the King of the Kingdom. He is the Lord of creation and of this world’s continuing existence. We should set out to follow Jesus because of who he is and not because of who we are. If, indeed, we did start to follow him from purely selfish motives he is a good and loving Saviour who will allow you to learn what your motives should have been and slowly, as you come to understand more, change your motives to those that they should have been in the first place. We can still ‘have faith and preserve our souls’ (10: 39) and receive a ‘better possession and an abiding one’ (10: 34) and receive the ‘great reward’ that ‘is promised’ (10: 35, 36). The necessary ‘endurance’ (10: 36) can be ours even if we did not really start for the best and right motives.