Consider the idea discussed in the previous article, that Hebrews 10:26-31 is being written to those who are growing weary as living out their faith becomes difficult. Maybe this includes you? I know that I’ve been there.
Believers in this situation are tempted to look for something to make their circumstances easier. After all, don’t all of us look for easier solutions when we get worn down and tired? In the first century, alternatives might have included things like going back to the law, or just avoiding church gatherings. Maybe persecuted believers thought that going back to something more comfortable (or less visible) would allow persecution and suffering to just stop. Maybe they were just tired of living out their faith (being selfless and serving others) and wanted to avoid reminders that this was what their faith was all about in the first place.
How about us? Maybe we (like them, perhaps) are pulled towards a fruitless faith, where we want to trust in something else, or we just don’t want to keep living out our faith – whether because it’s unpopular, it’s too much effort, or we simply don’t want to.
What happens when someone walks away from their faith in Jesus? Well, nothing else that they turn to can save them: even going back to sacrifices in the law won’t work (in fact, they never resolved our sin problem, anyway). The very reason that we usually follow Jesus in the first place – salvation and restoration to a present and eternal life with God – can’t be achieved through other, false gods. Someone who doesn’t accept God’s gracious offer (to be restored back to Himself) shouldn’t expect anything else to cover their sins, since there simply isn’t anything else. And, once we understand the consequences of sins (i.e., those that haven’t been paid for), and appreciate the incompatibility of those sins and God’s holiness, looking to anything else to make things better for us doesn’t seem like a good idea at all.
Still, faith in Jesus doesn’t make the mess of this sin-broken world go away. In Hebrews 10:32-35, we learn that the recipients of this letter knew what it was like to suffer. They had gotten through that, whether for themselves or by standing with others. While it might seem like enduring through trials is a great victory, let me tell you: I can be far more confident when I have even one more person on my side. Sometimes a friend or a supporter (rather than just a “fixer”) is exactly the blessing that suffering and persecuted people need.
Having said this, I think that one of the more challenging elements of getting through suffering is remembering God’s faithfulness during our challenges. When things are good, we can tell ourselves, “Sure, I know that God can take care of me if something happens”, or we can look back and praise God for what He has gotten us through in the past. But remembering – and being confident – that God will be faithful and get us through during our struggles seems like it might be more difficult.
However, God’s past faithfulness further cements our confidence in His future faithfulness, and remembering that He got us through in the past can encourage us to get through problems in the present or the future.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Hebrews 10:36-39 NIV
To those who may be considering walking away from faith in Jesus, the author reminds them that God is faithful. Even what may seem like forever to us in this lifetime will become just a “drop in the bucket” in eternity. “Soon” for God may not feel the same as what we consider “soon”, but His timing is perfect.
However, we are expected to remain faithful. God doesn’t want us to hide in a corner and try to be a Christian “in name only”. Our faith isn’t just something we believe; it should affect how we live. If our faith doesn’t change our lives, well, it isn’t really much of a faith to begin with.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for November 21, 2021
- The Lookout, September 5, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.