by Corey Bullock – Ahwatukee Campus Pastor
Every Wednesday morning a bunch of guys get together to read the Word of God and then share their insights from that reading. We call this gathering Ironman and we meet at 6:30am. At our Ahwatukee Campus we have been making our way through the Book of Hebrews. For those of you who have yet to read this letter, it has nothing to do with God making coffee – as my friend Steve Brines likes to joke (He-brews)! Instead, it is a letter to the Jewish people, also noted as the Hebrews who have embraced the teachings of Jesus.
These recent Jewish converts are at a fragile state in their faith. Their whole paradigm has just been rocked by this Jesus guy. They find themselves wanting to surrender their hearts to Jesus, but their minds keep getting drawn back to their rituals and sacrifices and ultimately their self-sufficiency. So the writer of this letter takes the approach of putting Jesus up against the old paradigm to try and help these Messianic Jews make the mental jump.
Jesus is compared to angelic beings. Jesus is greater. Jesus is placed next to the greatest of prophets, Moses. Jesus is greater. Jesus is linked to Melchizedek in a reference that shows that is greater than Aaronic priesthood which offers sacrifices day by day for the sins of the people. Jesus is greater. He is the High Priest who has offered a sacrifice once for all.
These words help to remind and cement the faith of these early followers. It is so important to be reminded of the foundations of our faith. It is easy to allow our minds to play mental tricks on us, especially with so many contrary notions out there today just as it was in their time. If we don’t know the core doctrines of our faith, then we will not be able to stand against differing ideologies or persecution. I am reminded of the old adage, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing in Chapter 10 when he writes,
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” vs 39
He is calling out these Jesus followers and rallying them not to fall back into old ways of thinking or be discouraged by persecution. This is a war cry. This is William Wallace prodding his countrymen before battle. We are not of the stock that shrink back. We push forward.
I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear these words. Often, I need to be reminded to take courage. My faith doesn’t cost me near as much as some of these early Christians or for that our brothers and sisters enduring persecution at the hands of extreme Islamists. Surely I can stand in the face of the minuscule whiplash I endure. I will not shrink back and give into my temptations. I will not shrink back from sharing my faith with my neighbor. I will not shrink back from speaking up about a wrong being done. I will not shrink back but will persevere through this debilitating illness. I will not shrink back to the false claims that contrast that which I know to be true about God and my existence. I will not shrink back! I will stand up!
What do you need to stand up to/for today?