Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting Back on Track

My friend John Dobbs posted the following on his blog:

We live in a noisy world with many voices calling us in many different directions. We want to be on the path that God sets before us, if we’re honest, we’ve all taken some detours along the way. Some of them have gone into destructive paths that have been very costly to us. Some of the detours have appeared to be benign, safe, and effortless … but in the mean time have been destructive to our spiritual life. What are some of the detours that destroy our spiritual life?

Being Unwilling to learn. (Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.”) It’s not that they cannot learn, it is that they are unwilling to learn. The Hebrews were listening to the voices calling them away from grace, away from Christ. We enter this detour when we are failing to stretch ourselves by studying / reading / learning in areas of discomfort or that are difficult. We can also take this detour by being easily satisfied by simplistic explanations instead of diving deeper into the Word of God. Our unwillingness to submit to the task of learning can also be prompted by over-attention to media, recreation, and entertainment. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the Apostle Paul were to write to us and say, “I’d like to tell you more about Jesus, but you stopped learning a long time ago.”

Neglecting Our Duties and Roles. (Hebrews 5:12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”) This is a stinging rebuke for people who consider themselves spiritual. Instead, many have neglected the elementary truths of God’s word to such an extent that they need to go back to spiritual kindergarten. What should you be by now? Should we have the ability to teach others at this point … and we cannot? Should we be able to dive into the Word of God with enthusiasm and ability … but instead barely have time to read it? This is not so much about ability as it is willingness … IF we are unwilling to learn (first detour), then we will be neglectful of the duties and roles that we should be filling. We need to break out of the destructive cycles our lives develop into and assume responsibility; get back on the journey to which God has called us.

Unable to Escape Being Bogged Down in the Basics (Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”) It is not our goal in the Journey to continually retread the same subjects over and over to the neglect of the deeper truths of God’s Word. When doing this we tend to only read things that we agree with already. Reminders are good … but our study and activity for God should not be simply a repeat … but it should stretch us. I’m sure there are lots of school kids this week who are being reminded of what they studied last year in School…but they will press onwards from there … diving deeper into these subjects. The basics are necessary … but they are not the end of the story … we move on from there.

Ignoring what we know (Hebrews 6:4-6 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”) If God is not enough, then there is nothing else. If you have been enlightened, saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, spent time in the Word … and it isn’t enough for you … what else do you think could keep you interested? There is no repentance if those things are left behind. Jesus he healed people, taught them, loved them, was truthful with them … yet … they killed him. Jesus has done all of this for you … would you leave Him now? If so, what will bring you back? Repentance is always an option if we come back … but the Hebrew writer maintains that if Jesus isn’t enough for you, there’s nothing else to bring you back.

Questions To Help us Get Back on Track

How are things going for you? (Hebrews 6:7-8 ”Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.”) Are you producing a spiritual crop for God…spiritual fruit … understanding and enjoying the blessings of God?Or is your life producing thorns and thistles? This is not a bad times / good times question. For the Christian on the Journey, even the bad times carry blessings that we recognize. Where is your life going? Is it moving closer and toward God, or are you following some detour that’s taking you away from God?

How is your serve? (Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”) God does not forget our work … he is drawn to us when we have helped people and continue to help them. In the Matthew 25 judgment scene the questions relate to service: how did you treat the hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick people that you knew? I think we tend to believe there is service and then there is knowledge. Both are important, but in Matthew 25 Jesus did not give them a doctrinal pop quiz. He wanted to know if serving Jesus made them more like Him…more aware of Him … did they live it out?

How is your walk? (Hebrews 6:12 “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”) Is it lazy … just taking in blessings without giving blessings? Is it active … walking in the same paths as those great people of faith we read about in Scripture (as we will see in Hebrews 11).

Are you on track … or on a detour? Detours aren’t to be tolerated. They are dangerous. They are destructive. They can steal your spiritual zeal and power. Hebrews 6 makes it clear that the country club vision of the church is not God’s vision…. this is not a place for people to get together once a week and say howdy … it’s not a chapel to fulfill a requirement for an hour of worship … this is a training facility where we are to be equipped to walk out into the world and be Jesus … be light in the darkness of this world. Like the Hebrews, we can listen to the wrong voices and get off track. If you’ve been on a detour, it’s time to correct your path and get back on the journey with Christ.

2 comments:

john dobbs said...

Thanks, Mike! I'm glad that it was helpful to you.

Keith Wood said...

I think John writes like Lucado. He could be making millions! He always shares some good thoughts.

Hey I enjoyed Cedar Creek on Sunday. They didn't boo me off stage so I think I did okay. Your staff was very courteous. We enjoyed lunch with Eric and the family. He is a good guy. David was personable as well. Any time you need a fill in let me know!

Glad you enjoyed the Northmen. Wish I could have been there.