Cruising Route 66
Slip, Sliding Away
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We are a people today with so much going on we tend to swing from one commitment to another. One of the first commitments we are apt to wash away is church attendance. I once thought of establishing a “No Excuse Sunday.” I would provide special benefits to select members of my congregation in order to ensure their attendance:
Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.
Eye drops would be available for those with tired eyes from watching TV late on Saturday night.
Helmets will be provided for those who feel that “the roof would cave in” if they were to ever actually enter a church.
Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who believe it’s too hot.
Extra sheets of lined paper will be available for those who wish to make a list of the hypocrites and sinners they know who are present.
“Stamp Out Stewardship” buttons will be distributed to those who feel the church is always asking for money.
A potted plant will be handed out to those folks who seek God in nature and find no purpose for church attendance.
Aspirin and cold medications will be on hand for those feeling feverish just before the big game, and EMTs will be in attendance for those who plan to be suddenly sick prior to the Sunday service.
The sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them and might not be able to relate to the foreign environment.
Last, but not least, hearing aids will be provided for those who can’t hear the preacher’s sermon, and ear plugs for those who can.
Not unlike the church of today, the Jews that the author of the Book of Hebrews is writing to were in great danger of drifting away from the truth of the gospel. The world around them was filled with distractions, much like our own. We must be on our guard because when difficult circumstances arise, we don’t want to find that our faith is too weak to be functional.
Our world tends to scoff at the concept of faith, at least faith in God. It mocks any dependence upon what cannot be seen. Yet, it seems to be up to its knees in blind superstition, lavish rituals, and boundless traditions.
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? Hebrews 2:1-3a
We’re being told here that it is possible for us to “drift away.” The term “drift” is a verb that presents several definitions. It means that which has drifted away, or slipped passed, or leaked out. Both Plato and Socrates used this term often to describe those things that drifted from memory and became forgotten. For those readers who were familiar with Greek philosophy, this truth would have stood out right away.
It presented a picture of a boat drifting, quietly, slowly away from its moorings during the night, and disappearing into the dark. When the owner comes to the dock, fully expecting his boat to be ready for use, he finds nothing. The “slipping passed” can be likened to evaporation. If you fail to focus your mind on the gospel, it can simply vanish into the air.
Try talking to a friend as you slowly walk away. Your friend is not gone, but soon you will no longer hear him. The point that is trying to be made here is that the process is not dramatic, nor sudden, but rather insidious and quiet. The danger comes when you return to use that faith you once had, only to find it has evaporated with neglect.
Another implication, and probably the most common of all, is that of “leaking.” This is not the result of neglect or ignorance but of a faulty container. When it comes to your faith, that container is you.
Unfortunately, the church today seems to have sprung a leak, tending more toward developing a mind of relativism, it’s becoming a church that yields to the popularity of new moral fads. Something I call philosophies of convenience.
Plato once said, “A wise reed bends with the breeze.” This is good information if you are a reed, but our Savior said to take the unyielding firmness of the cross.
Faith is simply a belief, a mental attitude. A person who has faith believes something without actually seeing it, or in some cases, where there isn’t adequate evidence to substantiate its existence.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Faith is more than just a belief that there is a God, it is a way of life. Abraham was known as a man of faith, not because he believed in God, but because he acted upon that belief. In the Book of James, we are told that if your faith can’t be seen, maybe it doesn’t exist.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
In other words, the writer is saying, “Do something that demonstrates your faith and watch what happens!” Faith without effort is no faith at all. When you act in faith, you will see God respond. He never rejects a pure gesture of faith.
Until next time,