The Jesus Habit: Daily Devotional
Hosted by David Lindner
Ahh, yes. That hotly contested and controversial passage in Hebrews. You know, the one where it talks about those who had been enlightened and then cursed Jesus to go back to Judaism? You remember that week right? If not, you might want to go listen to the sermon.
And, you’ll remember that we said two things: 1.) We are eternally secure if we continue to walk with Christ. 2.) You cannot lose your salvation, but you can drift away from it or reject it.
Nowhere in sScripture can we find support for the idea that a person can pray a prayer then live like Hell the rest of their lives and expect to receive God’s eternal presence. But, as a result of manipulations of scripture and watering down of doctrine, many so-called believers today are living in a false sense of security. I honestly don’t think the original heart of “once saved, always saved” teaching was to give people assurance of their salvation inspire of their action. You would be hard-pressed to find any such teaching from John Calvin or John Wesley.
If we really read scripture and do our best to discern simply what’s being said without reading our preconceived notions into the text, I think we will see an entirely different picture of this topic. Yes, we’re secure. Yes, we can walk away from Christ. No, if you walk away from Christ you don’t get to enjoy an eternity of God’s presence. That’s simply not the truth of the gospel. We may not like it. It may not be politically correct. But in the Kingdom of God, not everyone gets a trophy. Reward is reserved for resilient disciples of Jesus.
I’m sorry if that offends you, I don’t mean to. It’s just the truth. However, I think you would be more offended if I glossed over that truth and you had to learn the hard way that I had done so.
But, today, instead of trying to rehash the argument, I want to take a different look at this passage. I don’t really want to talk about what it means. There are literal volumes about that. And, as I said, you can listen to my hour-long sermon on it. I want to do something different today.
Why do we let our opinions around difficult topics such as these divide us as the church? Now, I would guess that if you’re reading or listening to this teaching, you’re probably not the kind of person to get caught up in arguing about such things. That’s typically not the kind of person that tunes in.
But, in my own life, I have experienced a great number of occasions great debates and arguments about this and other topics in scripture. Why do we do that? Why do we allow our personal opinion and need to be right to take over what Jesus seemed to think was important – the unity of the church. So important, it was one of the things He prayed for the night before His crucifixion.
And, along the same lines, why do we allow our political views to divide us? Or our views on popular topics of the day? Why does it seem that every issue is divisive in our time? I wrote an article about this years ago on my blog, which might be a good read too.
But, I think the simple reason is this. We’re all selfish ego-maniacs who have to prove that we’re smarter than the people around us. Even if you can argue circles around me, I’m going to stand my ground until you concede my point. I don’t care what you think or even if you’re right, I get to decide what’s right for me. Too harsh?
To be honest, there are probably many reasons why we do this. But, what if we started changing our approach. No, we can’t change the people around us, but we can change ourselves. We are responsible for our actions.
What if, the next time we get drawn into a conversation on a controversial topic such as this one a political one or a social one, what if we stayed calm? What if we asked questions to try to understand the other person’s point of view? What if we asked questions to clarify what someone really means? What if, instead of just putting up our walls and resisting because we’re absolutely certain this person is an idiot, we sought to learn something from them?
I’ve said before that the reason we’re so easily offended is because we embrace the lie of “relative truth.” Because we have decided for ourselves what’s right and wrong and we have embraced these mistruths as our identity, anyone that contradicts them isn’t just contradicting an idea they’re contradicting my very existence and purpose in life.
How do we change this? Well, I can tell you how we won’t change it. By arguing, getting angry and upset with people who disagree with us. It’s hard. I get frustrated when I’m talking with someone who has embraced one of these fallacies and refuses to listen to sound reasoning. But, I can almost guarantee a bad outcome if I get angry and argue hard for my side.
But, as Ravi Zacharias has noted, Jesus had a way of questioning people and getting to their underlying assumptions. Questions are powerful tools.
When you let someone else talk, you really get an understanding of where they’re coming from. The more you talk the more you push someone away. Often times, what I have discovered is that people don’t often have well thought out reasons for why they hold to a particular belief. That’s just what’s popular or what someone influential in their life told them to believe. It doesn’t take much effort at all to help a person discern that they are clinging to something they haven’t really even thought about.
Listening is almost a superpower in our time. Especially listening with care. Listening because you care for the person you’re talking to. It doesn’t seem like very many people are listening anymore. We’re stuck in our echo-chambers, where we hear the same ideas over and over again. And when someone has a different idea, we shout back at them whatever mantra we’ve heard in the chamber.
What if, the next time you have the opportunity to talk about this passage with someone, you simply asked questions to see where they’re coming from. The next time you’re talking politics, you could just listen and seek to understand why this is so important. Maybe, if more of us use this approach and treat one another with dignity we can start to reshape the way our world works, one conversation at a time.