We’ll review (again) the basis of relating to God. The crux of the letter is about this matter and if the writer gives that much time to the subject it is because it deserves our attention.
He wants to help us see that the security and certainty of the relationship comes when we relate to God through Jesus. We can summarise the letter so far:
Is the relationship based on me or is it based on Jesus?
Chapter 1: Do I choose the messenger and the message I prefer or do I give the choice to God? 1.2: but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Chapter 2: Do I maintain the relationship by my own effort or by the understanding and compassion of Jesus? 2.18: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Chapters 3-4: Do I control the future or trust in the path of God? 3.14: We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
Chapters 5-10: Do I restore my relationship with God by my body and blood or by the blood and body of Jesus? 9.14: How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Each time, the letter encourages us to trust the grace, the goodness, of God for providing the adequate, effective and safe solution.
Well, I choose God’s solution and I wait until I die to know the reality of my choice. No way! Christianity is not a spectator’s sport. The choice is something that we live everyday. Remember that the grace (goodness) of God does not opposed to effort but opposed to gain. Now, the letter focuses on practice, which shows that we believe what Jesus has established.
The first step is to get closer. We read from 10.19-22: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Believe what God says, that is, you are clean, you are forgiven. Believing it is an action if it is to have an effect. There are two places where this word of truth has to work, the conscience and the body. I will learn how to think and act according to what is the truth, that is, what we have here in the Bible. The Bible can’t be reduced to a pamphlet because we can’t reduce the relationship to a set of rules or a list of tips. The more we know the accounts and interactions between God and his creation, the more we can reorder our thoughts and practice.
Do you know this book to live it? As Paul says to Timothy: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Righteousness means that which is right.
The second step is to remain steadfast. We read 10.23: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
We have to be attentive to what God has promised us. Can you express your hope? If someone asks you why you a Christian, can you answer about the hope you have? It is difficult to hold unswervingly if you are not clear on the reason, if you can’t express it. We deal with doubts by understanding. Are you looking for answers to the questions you have about the hope of God? For example, the accounts of the Bible deal with the question of honesty and why it is better to be straight with your words and actions than deceptive. But if you do not understand your hope for believing that, you will not follow this hope of being a person who speaks the truth and does the truth.
Do this together
The third step is to do this together. We read 10.24-25: And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We are not alone, we are a community. A priority is to be together, helping each other. If we have something between us, we seek to reconcile it. If we see that a person needs encouragement, we offer it. We serve each other. We reflect here the reality that the day of God is approaching. That means when the distinction between the earth and the heavens disappears and we experience the whole reality of relating without shame, without fear, without doubt. We put into practice what our future is. Even to relate with people who are not like me. That is a very important part of Christian hope. I do not have to limit my relationships to the same culture, intelligence, social position. I engage with the whole new family of God.
What if I don’t?
These are three concrete steps to live what you believe. Christianity is not a spectator sport. The choice is something that we live everyday.
Not doing it is a disaster. It is the warning of 10.26-31: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Not taking these steps seriously means making a path to death. Remember that the word “sin” means ignoring God. That is to say, to continue sinning intentionally means not to pay attention to him, nor to respond concretely to what he says. Be careful because many people at this time get upset because they reduce the word of God to a set of laws, as if it were the laws of the state of Spain. Doing this is being ignorant. Jesus opposed the Pharisees for reducing the law in this way. Consider verse 29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
We do not trample on written words, but trample on the person of Jesus. The law is a person. If we start there, we will really understand what the law of God means and why not listening to it is a disaster.
But the author of the letter always remains hopeful. He had this hope for his first readers, as he says in 10.32-39. So also for us. We read 10.35-36: So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
The author is realistic. He knows that life can be difficult. But he knows that God is more powerful. The reward for putting into practice what you believe by faith is worth it. Do you really want to know your creator? Put these three simple steps into practice and you will walk in the right way.