We are not the first generation of Christians to be disoriented by current events, distracted from devotion to Christ, and discouraged in our faith.
The message of the Book of Hebrews is a timely word to first century Christians who suffered for their faith in Christ. Their world was tumultuous, and being a Christian in that world did not make living in it easier. Hebrews 10 tells us that some of these followers of Jesus endured a hard struggle, were publicly reproached, lost property, and ended up in prison. These experiences caused many of them to become so discouraged that they questioned the faith and their faith in Christ.
Hebrews was written to disoriented Christians.
The message of Hebrews begins with a long explanation about how Jesus is superior to angels, prophets, Moses, priests, animal sacrifices, and the temple. Every good way God related to his people before Jesus is now replaced by Jesus who is superior to them all. All previous ways served the good purpose of pointing to and preparing for the coming of Jesus.
Jesus is now here. Christians are now brought to God by him, and there find grace and help in time of need. They now have the promise of life in Jesus and are called forward by that promise to run the race of faith before them.
The message to the disoriented believers was not that things will get better, that they will get through it, and that soon their lives will return to normal. The message was to endure in doing the will of God, for in doing so they will receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:35-36).
So, here we are, two thousand years later, disoriented by current events in our world. A drift is occurring among many Christians. Faith is low and helpful connections with other believers are fewer due to COVID-19 restrictions and disagreements over issues in our culture. Congregations are experiencing the effects of both the restrictions and the tensions, and have become increasingly inward focused, disconnected, and discouraged. We are very much like the Christians who first read Hebrews- in need of endurance.
But, the endurance we need is not the kind that merely holds on and waits for things to get better. It is the kind that keeps us faithful to Christ. Hebrews tells us to hold on to our confidence in Christ and to keep confessing him as Lord. We are exhorted to stay in each other’s lives and to stir ourselves up for love and good deeds.
A summary of the final chapters of Hebrews is to remain in faith, hope, and love by fixing our eyes on Jesus and running together the race set before us with the promise of life to come.
Grace Community Church, we have a need of endurance. Nashville and Middle Tennessee need us to endure. In times of turmoil, God often uses the exhaustion that occurs to turn people to Christ. When he does, faithful, enduring congregations will be standing with Christ to welcome them in as we ourselves have been welcomed by him.
This Sunday at Grace, I plan to break from our study of Romans and preach from Hebrews 10. Read this chapter this weekend and pray with me that the Lord will grant us grace to endure in faith during these days.