Saturday, January 30, 2016

What Are You Willing to Abandon?



Scripture:

Hebrews 10:35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward.  36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

37     For yet “in a very little while,
        the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
38     but my righteous one will live by faith.
        My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.”

39 But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Observation:

The faith that we have received through Christ is precious. This is not just something which should be easily tossed away or abandoned, but it is something to which we cling our entire lives. We are not to become victims of the world’s temptations which will destroy our path to heaven but we are to continue on in faith.

Those who have led others to a place of faith hold dearly to the deep conviction and prayer that none will be lost. The author of Hebrews was passionately concerned about those who had come to faith shrinking back. They would be lost! The plea is to hold steadfast to the faith which has been received. This is not a sprint, but an endurance race that brings us to the very end of our life’s journey.

The opening verse reflects upon the idea of abandonment and this is a serious charge, as if this were a child who abandons their parents. The result is disastrous as all ties with their family and relationships that can bring security are destroyed. In conversion we experience this great transference from the power of darkness into the kingdom of light in which we live in light, but the light of Christ also shines into every moment of our being.

Those who have been transformed and endure do not shrink back. They engage in intentional discipleship and refuse to abandon that which ties them so firmly to the Father.

Application:

We moved to Moscow, Russia in 1992. It’s hard to believe that 24 years have passed and the world has changed. In those early years of the roaring 90’s in Russia there was a rapid change as people grasped at the new-found economic opportunities. This included, for some, the appropriation of vast amounts of wealth. It was something that many had never before encountered and so adjusting to this new reality was, at times, a bit cumbersome. There were jokes about the “New Rich Russians” and the way in which they treated their new material purchases. Obviously, this was not the life of the ordinary individual, but simply for a handful. It was not uncommon for one of these individuals to purchase a very expensive car with cash. Insurance was difficult to obtain in those days and therefore, getting in an accident was pretty much an adventure which left few positive options. I recall reading an article in a newspaper about the numerous cases where these beautiful new cars would be totaled and the driver would get out, throw the keys into the car, and walk away. They simply abandoned the vehicles and moved on. They had used them up and were finished with them.

None of us would ever like to believe that we would treat our faith the same way, but maybe we have. We may have been excited early on with our newfound faith in Jesus Christ. Or, maybe you were raised in the church and it was just always something that was there that become normal to you. But now, the world has changed and there are bigger and better and more exciting adventures to be had. Instead of caring for and gently nurturing what we have been given, we throw in the keys and walk away.

My prayer and deepest conviction is that we would have no desire to leave the faith which has been so beautifully and sacrificially gifted to us. But just as we need to care for and maintain the material things which we have in this world, so we must be intentional about maintaining the precious spiritual gift which we have been given. That’s why we are encouraged to endure, and endurance has to do with discipleship. To not abandon what we have learned means that we must intentionally maintain it until the very end. Enduring is intentionality and self-discipline. This requires God’s people to be in the Scriptures, in prayer, and in fellowship with one another and in service to the kingdom. All of these lead to the intentional growth dimension of Christ’s followers and this is the only way we cannot shrink back.

We have received a priceless gift and we’ve been asked to lovingly steward and care for that gift until Christ returns. This is the gift of our faith, both individually and collectively. Will we toss in the keys and abandon our faith on the side of the road, or will we be willing to intentionally care for and endure until the end? I believe we should declare with the author to the Hebrews, “we are not among those who shrink back.” Amen!

Prayer:
Lord, please empower me through your Holy Spirit to live and endure in relationship with you.  Amen.
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