31 October 2020Hebrews 13:1-21
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and for ever. (v.8)
On Monday we looked at the importance to the Christian faith of understanding that God is with us (Emmanuel). As the writer of Hebrews concludes this letter, and as he turns to some practical advice for following the Christian path, it may well be helpful to keep in mind the presence of Jesus with us. As we journey through life, as we face daily decisions about how we use our time and behave towards others, then the awareness of being with the living God is vital. If we have the faith to believe that God is not just beside us, but that his Spirit is within us and that he is closer than the air we breathe, then our everyday decision-making takes on a new dimension.
The practical advice that the writer gives to the 'Hebrews' in verses 1-6 is a series of encouragements to behave in a way that is worthy of Christian believers: first of all, to continue in brotherly love towards each other, always the first step in building each other up in fellowship; second, to extend this love towards others by being hospitable, especially towards strangers; thirdly, to be sympathetic rather than judgemental towards those who are in trouble; then to be faithful and honourable in marriage; and lastly, to be content with what we have, freed up from the love of money. If we follow this basic advice, others will see God in action and will want to follow not just ourselves, but more importantly the faith that lies behind the actions.
Of course, faced with daily challenges, decisions and temptations, following such advice is not as easy as it sounds. The writer of Hebrews, in verse 8 interjects some words to help all readers keep focus: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and for ever”, before reminding us what Jesus has done for us all both through his sacrifice on the Cross (v.12) and his resurrection (v.20). The faith of those who follow Christ, God who continues to be with us, is once again affirmed.
So the letter to the Hebrews nears its conclusion with words of hope, of faith and of presence: “Now may the God of peace… make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”(v.21)
Our faith is in Christ who, by his grace, dies and rises again within us – each and every day.
- There is much practical advice in Hebrews 13: 1-6, paraphrased in the second paragraph above. Would you want to add any other sentence of advice to help someone live a Christian life?
- Hymn 443 in Singing the Faith invites us to “sing of a wonderful love”. Perhaps our prayer today could be the last verse:
“Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
come and abide,
lifting my life, till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride;
seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of thee.” Amen.