Those of us “who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” I’m barely into this first verse of Hebrews Chapter 3 and I find myself immediately in need of God’s divine intervention in my life. If indeed we share in the heavenly calling, meaning if we are truly Jesus followers, then we ought not to fix our thoughts on Corona, our checkbook, our spouses, our children, our jobs, our successes or our failures. No, we are to fix our thoughts on Jesus.
That’s no small task right now either. Am I right?
Recently, I have been going to bed and waking up with my eyes fixed on everything it seems, except the holy name of Jesus. Thankfully, I have those faithful “encouragers” in my life (mentioned here in Hebrews 3:13) – mentors, my community group, and my group of sweet prayer warrior friends – who are constantly holding me accountable and catching me when I fall. But seriously, it has been a struggle for me, and frankly, way too easy for my thoughts to once again get averted during this season of difficulty.
I am naturally drawn to work. Blame it on my maternal grandma who raised me. God rest her soul. You might say she vexed me with that old protestant work ethic, but something even more dangerous than that. Along with impressing upon me the paramount importance of work work work, was the just as important necessity of relying on oneself. Alas, that kind of do or die attitude came natural to a woman who grew up in poverty, survived world wars and the great depression, and had to make something out of nothing to feed her family. My grandma was a faithful believer, but she was also old school you might say. And because of that, I grew up thinking I can do this on my own. I can do this on my own. I can do this on my own. Sort of my own real-life version of The Little Engine That Could.
The other thing to which I am naturally drawn in difficult times is what I call “My Island.” I enjoy the solitude that accompanies my retreat from people. I want to do the work; solve whatever is the problem of the day; and I want people to leave me alone in the process.
Yeah, right about now you’re shaking your head. Well, you should be.
The author of Hebrews goes on to give a sharp reprimand to the likes of me in verses 7-11 of chapter 3, saying “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion….” New Covenant Christians in the book of Hebrews were being warned not to fall into the same old trap as their Israelite ancestors, the trap of self-reliance and hard work. The trap of stubbornness and arrogance. The trap of self-deceit. The trap of sin.
All of us have a snare that entangles us, and so, hardens our hearts. What is yours?
We need to understand this passage details God’s dissatisfaction and righteous anger with the ancient Israelites who did not heed his calling or listen to his voice and act accordingly. Clearly, this scripture illustrates God’s disapproval of those whose self-reliance was esteemed more highly than dependence on their Creator.
The truth of the matter is as plain as the nose on my face. Every time I fix my thoughts on work work work, and self-reliance, the harder my heart becomes. The writer of Hebrews is warning us not to go down that road. It is surely the path that leads away from God, not toward him. In fact, if we rely on anything besides Jesus to deliver us from our trials, scripture says that is “disobedience.”
Finally, “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So, we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
It’s pretty sobering to think that when I am struggling to enter into spiritual rest and spiritual peace, it might well be my own hard heart, my own self-deceived nature which has put a huge wedge between me, and the peaceful rest God has for me.
So, what can we do practically, every day, to both hear and believe God’s voice?
- Be a part of ongoing mentoring relationships with other Jesus followers. Make certain they are holding you accountable and not just agreeing with everything you say. Jesus love is full of both compassion and truth.
- Make a point to offer the first 5 minutes (or more) of you day to Jesus. Quiet prayer is great. Doing nothing else but meditating on Jesus. This is hard with littles at home. Try to start your day before they start theirs with this morning boost. It’s a spiritual daily vitamin.
- You cannot fully know and digest the truths of God if you are not seeking answers to your everyday problems and challenges in scripture. The bible is alive, and scripture is relevant. (Matthew 4:4 and Hebrews 4:12) If your child is disrespectful, there’s a scripture about that. If you feel lonely and brokenhearted, there is a scripture about that. Make a daily point of seeking out scripture that applies directly to your situations, joyful or sad. Then meditate on what action it might be calling you to.
- Just shut up. Sometimes we talk too much, and don’t listen nearly enough. Start listening more to others, seeking first to understand then to be understood. When you practice this in your relationships, you might be shocked how immensely this impacts your ability to hear and understand God’s voice in your life.
- Recognizing that Jesus is the great High Priest in the line of Melchizedek, (not only in the line of Aaron.) Infinite, not finite. Without beginning or end, not dead in a grave. Melchizedek, who according to Hebrew 7, was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life…” This is the High Priest on whom we lay down our burdens. Think about that and the power that lies behind it. Let it roll over you. Then, once again, back to where we started: “fix your thoughts on Jesus whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”
“But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” Hebrews 3:6 NIV