I walked out of my grade 10 math exam with a big smile on my face because I felt that had just aced a midterm without studying at all. A week later, after I had received my mark, I walked out of class very slowly and dejected because I had discovered that my confidence was sorely misplaced. My grade 10 math test required more than what I was putting into it. I’ve made the same mistake with my Christianity from time to time. God is eternally gracious and never stops calling us, but I’m finite and I reap the consequences of my choices. Christianity begins with God’s expensive gift of mercy, and it is embraced with our expensive gift of personal engagement. So, what does that look like? How Hard Is It To Be A Christian?
Hebrews 4:1-11 leads us to a crucial question, “How Hard Is It To Be A Christian?”
1 God requires something better than your casual engagement
4:1, “let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short” NIV
The author of Hebrews (who remains a mystery to this day) alerts his readers to some potentially harmful news. It is possible to know the truth of salvation, to have some connection with the Gospel and the church, yet to be passed over when salvation is handed out.
The author uses the word “rest” as he (or she, we really don’t know) talks about salvation. Salvation was offered to Israel, offering them great potential to personally engage with God. If they chose to obey the calling to faith they would have received the benefits of a relationship with God. Unfortunately, they rejected the relationship they had with God.
God calls us all into a relationship. Our response absolutely needs to be personal engagement.
2 God requires your first and your best
4:6, “Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today’” NIV
God’s calling to faith must be answered with our first and our best. God gave His first and His best to us when He sent Jesus to die. Actually, God gave His first and His best long before the creation of the world, choosing that Jesus would die for us even before Adam was given life (1 Peter 1:20).
The author gives us an example of a group of people who chose not to give God their first and best. The early Jews treated God too casually, rejecting the call to faith. Because they didn’t take the call to faith to heart they didn’t receive the benefit their faith would have given them.
We are told that God’s call is for “Today.” This word has a similar meaning to the adage, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” Don’t wait for tomorrow, respond to God in this moment. Sure, God will again call everyone into faith tomorrow because God is eternal and unchanging. However, you are not eternal and unchanging. You’re running out of time, and constantly changing. Take this moment, right now, to give God your first and best because who knows what the next moment will bring. And, who knows when God’s going to be able to get your attention again.
3 You need to capture this moment and give God what He wants
4:11, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest” NIV
God wants to give you rest. He wants you to stop trying to work so hard to please yourself, others and Him. He also doesn’t want you to work so hard to pay off the debt you owe Him (the debt of sin).
God wants personal engagement. Personal engagement with God begins with faith in Jesus. However, it requires more than that. To obey the call to faith requires a moment by moment personal engagement with Jesus. He’s not to be treated casually, but to be treated as though He is the very best we have and can ever have. Jesus is our treasure, more valuable than anything else we have now or will ever have.
Capture this moment and personally engage with Jesus as though He’s the best you have. Personally engage with Jesus as though the loss of Him would mean your utter destruction.
Is Christianity Harder Than What You’re Putting Into It?
Come on, you know the answer is always “Yes.” Who are we that we should think we could muscle up enough effort and energy to perfectly attain to such a high calling as “Friend of God.” It’s ok, God’s got you covered. But, He’s only got you covered if you’re not careless about the calling to faith. Personally engage with Jesus. Now isn’t too soon. Later may be too late.
What about you?
Are you treating Jesus like He’s the best you have? Are you personally engaging with him, or are you treating him as though He were a religion?
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