LIVE ON PURPOSE

The Epistle to the Hebrews 2:1, 3:12-13 (NRSV)

2:1 Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

3:12-13 Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The author of this Epistle to the Hebrews is encouraging the intended audience to hold fast to their commitment to the faith and teachings they have received as a second-generation congregation of believers of Jesus Christ, possibly located in Rome. Fred B. Craddock notes that the author is familiar with this congregation, having been with them before and hoping to return.[1]

As the epistle moves forward, we understand the author is very concerned for this community of faith as it seems that their strength and determination to function as a congregation is waning. Practices previously established are failing away and individuals are beginning to turn away from God, and perhaps even abandoning their community of faith.

It may be that there was persecution and hostility towards this community in the area in which they lived. Perhaps some have been imprisoned for their commitment or saw their property confiscated. Craddock states that the fear of public shaming or ridicule would be a major concern. The social, political and economic values that governed life in the Mediterranean world were honor and shame. [2] If the individuals were shamed in the public square there would be pressure on their ability to obtain employment, enter into trade guilds, trade and purchase property, etc. No wonder their author of this epistle is encouraging the audience to not drift away from their faith in a living God!

We, too, brothers and sisters, must pay attention to we have heard about our Christian faith, our walk with Jesus so that we also do not drift away. Similar to the early apostles our collective faith is under pressure. Social media presents us with images and words from acknowledged Christian sources that support putting children in cages, support chanting “send her back”, support the continuing marginalization of the stranger, orphan, widowed, and oppressed. Both the Hebrew texts and New Testament texts contain laws and exhortations to feed the hungry, shelter those in need, provide medical care for those in need. Isaiah 58:6-7 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells his followers that when they took care of those who were hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, sick, in prison and visited, they were taking care of Jesus.

Beloved, I encourage you to pay attention to what you have heard and been taught as followers of the Way of Jesus. That we do not drift away from the teachings of our ancestors and allow our hearts to be hardened by constant daily events that threaten to break our spirit and will to continue in faith and hope that the works that we do and the missions we support truly do make a difference.

Let us not be bullied into silence regarding the expression of our faith but loudly proclaim Jesus is Lord. We will steadfastly provide our voices, hands, feet and resources to continue moving in our own neighborhoods to offer peace, inclusivity, compassion and love, especially love, mirroring the love of the One who loves us.

Ashay and Amen,

Pastor Paula

[1] Craddock, Fred B. The New Interpreters’ Bible, Vol. 12, Abingdon Press, TN 1998


[2] Ibid, 10

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