“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
“We die and we die and we die, not only physicallyBwithin seven years every cell in our body is renewed—but emotionally and spiritually as change seizes us by the scruff of the neck and drags us forward into another life. We are not here simply to exist. We are here in order to become” (Susan Howatch, Absolute Truths).
The writer of Hebrews writes a letter to a community that was apparently on the verge of reconsidering its commitment to Christ. The author uses an extended argument to demonstrate to the reader that living as a Christian, as painful as it might be because of institutionalized persecution, is superior to their former lives. Commitment to Jesus surpasses all other attempts at worshiping God. Apparently, however, the readers of the letter to the Hebrews were having second thoughts, and were beginning to abandon their faith in Christ in favor of their former attachments.
The Hebrews’ writer writes: “How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of Grace?” (Heb. 10:29). In effect, the Hebrews= writer says, “You can’t go back.”
Let’s be honest: there are times when each of us wishes our faith didn’t ask as much from us. We wind up organizing church events for people who don’t come. We have to get out of bed on our only day off. We can’t do all the things that television causes to look so appetizing. Then we start to think that our faith is certainly cumbersome, not allowing us to do all the things we’d like. And we wonder what life would be like if we didn’t have God telling us what to do all the time, which we guiltily admit to ourselves sounds pretty good.
Prayer starts to come harder. Reading scripture seems increasingly like a burden we shouldn’t have to endure. We begin to think of places where we can get a greater return on our hard earned money. Lies come easier. We find an unlimited number of excuses for being away from the Lord’s Table.
God, this whole faith thing is costing an awful lot more than I expected. Can’t we just tone it down some? No sense being fanatical about it, is there? I thought faith was supposed to help me fine-tune my self-image.
All of a sudden, we hear the echoes of the Hebrew writer saying, “You can’t turn back. You can’t return to the security of your former life, because you died and your life is hidden now in Christ. You must stay the course. You must grow.”
“But it asks so much of me.”
“We are not here simply to exist. We are here in order to become.”
“I don’t know if I’ll survive the changes God requires of me.”
“One thing’s for sure: you won’t survive not changing—because not changing is, by definition, death.”
“But, I’m afraid.”
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.”