We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Hebrews 3:14)
A few years ago, I owned a lovely Victorian house. The place had been marvelously restored, repainted, and refreshed. No one could complain about the price I paid for the joint, and I stood to make a pretty nice pile of dough when I sold it. I listed it for sale at a very reasonable price. Within a few days, I had not one but two fine offers. We negotiated and reached an agreement. Who could complain?
The only problem came when we went to closing. The closer scowled at the papers and then at me. “I see a problem here, Mr. Browning. There’s no record of you ever buying the house.”
I shrugged. “Well, the place was empty when I moved in, and nobody ever came around who seemed to own it, so…” Need I explain that the sale did not go through.
It seems that you can’t cash in on something that you don’t actually own. Who’d have thunk it?
When reading today’s verse, we might be tempted to understand it to mean that we can lose our salvation if we don’t hold on “to the very end.” But notice the verb tense. We “have come” (now) to share in Christ. It doesn’t say that we “will have come” (at the very end).
Some of us might appear to belong to Christ today, just as I appeared to own that house. It wasn’t as if I actually owned that house until my fraud came to light. I never owned the house. The Christian-in-appearance-only will be found out at some point. It might be next week when adversity washes aside the pretense of belief. It might be next year, when some squabble in the home causes true colors to shine forth. Perhaps the truth will not come out until “closing.”
My story of the lovely house is a fiction, but each of us has a genuine story about ownership by Christ. Today is the day for each of us to be sure he has a clear title to our souls.
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)
I’ve quit a lot of things in my life. In high school, I quit the wrestling team. Piano lessons bit the dust somewhere along the line. I quit my first real job, working for the Boy Scouts. At present, I’ve quit working as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts. I’ve quit drinking Diet Coke about a thousand times. Many people have much more experience quitting things than do I, but I am no amateur in that pursuit.
There’s nothing wrong with quitting things. After all, if we never quit anything, our lives would be utterly jammed. The problem is when we quit the important things. I’ve known of people who walked away from marriage, got out of the habit of parenting, drifted away from prayer, and quit other vital things.
The author of Hebrews spent the entire first chapter of his letter establishing the importance of Jesus Christ, establishing Jesus as something that we cannot afford to simply have fade from our lives. Justin Bieber can be forgotten, but not Christ. American Idol can fade from view, but not Jesus.
Christ should be like the air we breathe–there’s a song to that effect, isn’t there? When we withdraw from him, we should almost immediately notice the loss. Our lungs should ache, needing the nourishment that comes with each breath. That’s how it ought to be, but the presence of this verse in Hebrews suggests that since the very dawn of the Christian age, the drift away danger has been a very real and present one.
That we’re reading (and writing) these words, suggests that we’re attending to the things we’ve heard and endeavoring not to drift away. May that always be the case.