1 Ch 7-8; Heb 3-4; Psalm 20-21
As we saw yesterday, the Letter to the Hebrews is shrouded in mystery. It also is one which more than any other is full of warnings against falling away, a common theme throughout as we shall see, as we find in today’s reading.
But more than that, perhaps more than any other letter it emphasises the importance of relationships within the church in terms of strengthening faith.
When we consider how being part of the church is significant to our faith often we may think of this in terms of the support we receive when we pass through difficulties which are the common lot of all people. But here in the letter to the Hebrews we discover something far more significant – that of mutual ‘exhortation’ to stand firm in faith. Yes we mature in faith as we grow older, or at least we should, but the essence of that faith remains the same. All too often ‘maturing in faith’ becomes a means by which we in effect ‘turn away from the living God’. In the midst of looking after one another’s wounds common to all, we may well let this slip. As we shall see, the Hebrews clearly were under tremendous persecution for their faith, something we in the Western church know little if anything of.
In the absence of such difficulties we suffer for our faith, the common difficulties of life are intensely magnified. Did not the Hebrews also go through these things as well? Yet their concern is for ‘holding our first confidence firm to the end’.
When we face troubles in this world, common to us all, it is all too easy to lose sight of that which unites us to our brothers and sisters in Christ. In our culture, the Individual reigns supreme, and for many in the church, faith has disastrously become a matter of private belief. the Epistle to the Hebrews is strong meat for such a culture of accommodation in the church.