“On account of this (the Sonship of Jesus), it is necessary for us to give so much more heed to the things having been heard, lest we should drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).
Drifting away is the consequence of not heeding the Word of God. That is what the author here is saying. Put another way, in the vernacular, slack abiding will lead to back-asliding.
There is an inevitability about this. The drifter doesn’t know that he is drifting away; you don’t feel drifting; it is just a comfortable suspension. Comfortable is the word. But gradually, it draws us unconsciously into currents and rips that carry us out of the safety of God’s reach and into the dangerous waters of darkness, where suddenly, we realise that we are on our own, without a lifebelt and unable to swim.
It is safe to say that modern western Christianity has drifted away from the truth that is Christ and His Word, in a vain attempt to compromise with the world, and so maintain the place that the church once held in the world’s social pecking order. This has meant forsaking the God-given demand to be salt and light to the world and, instead, becoming a mirror of the world and its values. The modern, western church has hastened to pay the price and comply with the world’s demand for conformity.
More than any other thing, this explains why the western world itself is disintegrating before our eyes in these days. God doesn’t hold the unbelievers responsible for the condition of the world; it is His people who are meant to be salt, that purifies, and light, that dispels darkness. But alas! God’s people haven’t given “so much more heed” to what God has said, nor to the life that Jesus modelled for us as an example, and to which He has called each one of us.
This, itself, is the consequence of neglect to give the Holy Scriptures the devoted and diligent attention that they deserve. In particular, modern Christianity tends to focus exclusively on the New Testament, the Good News, as it is called, at the expense of the Old. But the Word of God is indivisible and we neglect the study of the whole counsel of God’s Word to our peril.
While the New Testament contains the good news of the three R’s – redemption, reconciliation and regeneration – it is also meant to turn our attention back to the Old Testament, where we can learn about the origin of this Good News, about God, His purpose, His nature, His ways and His anger when His people show a preference for the world and its ways. This, He calls idolatry and adultery.
Yet, though we be floundering around in the sea of darkness, we need not be lost. There is a way back for those who have drifted away through neglect of God’s Holy Word and the “great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3) that it offers. Offers, mind you. It is an offer, not an unconditional guarantee, as has become the conventional wisdom of modern Christianity and the advertising slogan of the modern religious business. For there are conditions attaching to the offer.
“Abide in Me” (John 15:4). This is a command; that is, it is in the imperative mood in the original language. The Greek word meno, is translated here as “abide’, but it also means, ”continue” and “remain”, which give it the sense of a permanent living place. Let Christ be your heart, your mind, your tongue, your ears and eyes.
“How is this possible?” you may ask. Only through prayer, continual prayer which, after all, is only talking to God. King David knew something about this. “I love the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me therefore will I call upon Him all the days of my life” (Psalm 116:1-2). I am with King David on this one. God’s ear is always inclined to those who call upon Him, particularly those who have “drifted away” and seek to find a way back.
“Therefore, we should go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). It was the traditional religious community that was responsible for the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory. They couldn’t do it themselves because of the Roman laws, but they persuaded the Romans to do it. When offered a choice by Pilate between the release of Jesus and the release of Barabbas, they chose Barabbas; (ironically the name means “son of the father” in English).
As to the “His reproach” referred to in Hebrews, this was His rejection by the unfaithful people of God; and that is the reproach that will inevitably fall upon those who come outside the religious camp to seek the Living God, who dwells not in institutions, but in the beating and yielded hearts of redeemed individuals.
In these dark days, as churches grapple with the dilemma of trying to straddle two worlds, God is doing what He has always done – calling to you and to me. The hymnist Will L. Thompson got it right.
“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling; calling for you and for me. See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching; watching for you and for me. Come home, come home! Ye who are weary come home. Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling; calling, O sinner, come home!”