About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 5:11-6:8
I think that one of the greatest misconceptions the modern worldview holds is the belief that anything difficult to hear or that seems harsh is unloving. We must remember, however, that "all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it," a truth written later on in Hebrews chapter 12. As a society, we want to be coddled and we do so enjoy lashing out at those whose ways are not as soothing as we would like, calling them intolerant. Ironically enough, that is, itself, an act of intolerance--a refusal to see another worldview as valid and acceptable.
However, when I read this letter, I do not see judgmental anger or harshness. I see the desperation of one who is trying to wake loved ones out of a dangerous state of lethargy. My friends, if you snatch me from the path of an oncoming semi--even if I am wounded in the process--I would not say you were in the wrong or unloving. I would be thankful that you tried to save me at all! A broken limb may mend, but that semi may have done irreparable, permanent harm.
This is the state of the church this letter was written to, and this is largely the state of the American church today. We are being lulled into a lethargy that will soon find us drifting into hazardous waters. We need to be woken up, snatched from danger at al
l costs. Even if we suffer some slights to our pride or damage to our tender sensibilities, even if we must be broken and humbled to recall that God is the Creator and that our opinions really have no bearing on the reality of His nature or His plans, these injuries are temporary and easily mended. They may even be necessary, as a greater wound is often inflicted in a surgery to remove a diseased organ or a cancer. Sometimes damage must be done before healing can begin.
When we think about tolerance, love, hate, and all the rest, it is important to remember that it is not the state of the brief life we lead in these faulty, leaky, and fragile organisms we now dwell in. These are tents, temporary shelters for the one part of us that will go on--or not. However, if we hope to reach the final, permanent resting place offered through Christ, we must walk in Him. He is the only Way. We cannot afford to redefine this way based on cultural acceptability or soften His teachings to become more palatable. We need loving and firm teachers like the author of Hebrews who care enough to shake us up, to bring to mind the urgency of navigating through the ever-increasing atmosphere of cultural decay. We need to be reminded of the permanence of our spirit, the weight of our sins which He bore, our own terrific need for a Savior. We need to be reminded that belief is not obedience, and obedience is an act of love. We do not just acknowledge Christ as our Savior--we love Him for it and need be willing to throw everything else away for the privilege of spending eternity in the mingled presence of Him and of the Father.
Or, as the author of Hebrews says, for those of us who are not new believers, we should already know all about repentance and the foundational stuff of discipleship. The doctrine of sin and repentance should not be novel to us, but rather should by now be a matter of habit borne of diligent practice. We should be growing more like Christ, not more like the world. We do not need to claim some silly, false "repentance" that leads to no change, for as this letter's author wrote, that is akin to sacrificing Christ all over again and holding His death up to contempt. No, repentance should be genuine and lasting. Neither dare we to overlook sin and repentance altogether, for it is to set us free from sin that He gave His life. Let's resolve to grow, to put into practice the pursuit of personal holiness, to move on to solid food, and to ask our Father to keep us safely on the narrow path.
Father God, I am so very thankful that You gave Your Son to be our High Priest.I am so very thankful that You saw fit to spare me the drinking of the cup of Your wrath. Lord, I ask that You will keep me humble and keep me from drifting away. Wean me from spiritual milk and help me to learn to walk in the light. Teach me to make a practice of rejecting darkness and agreeing with You on its definition. Help me to move on to maturity in Christ and to be Your building, established on the Rock and no longer tossed about by the changing winds of this world. Help me to walk in joy, peace, love, and patience with others as You have shown great patience with me. Help me also not to presume upon Your patience but to diligently and steadily seek Your face and Your wisdom and will for my life. I ask in Jesus name, and not for my own sake but for the honor of His name, change me more and more into His image,amen.