Ever thought about giving up? Yeah, I know. What time is it? I confess to struggling with this temptation all the time. And the temptation to give up seems to come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; from small things to big things. Plus, it seems we live in a modern culture that celebrates and even encourages “giving up.”
The “easy path” of abandoning that which is hard flows from the foolish notion that a “happy” life is a life free of suffering or struggle. That lie continues to produce devastating consequences in the people who believe this lie. Their unreasonable expectations, their demands for ever-increasing “rights” to not be offended, and their perpetual adolescent attitudes create adults who can’t adult! By the way, when did “adulting” become a thing? I thought that was the whole point of growing up!
Look at our lesson today in Hebrews 3:1-4:
HOLY BRETHREN, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.)
The masterpiece of a sermon that is the book of Hebrews is a source of wisdom and powerful insight none of us who follow Jesus should discount or dismiss. In other words, read this book in the Bible. Do it today!
And, as you read this book, notice how many times the author uses the idea that Jesus is better; a better sacrifice, a better priesthood. The keyword in Hebrews is better. Of course, that makes perfect sense because Hebrews is addressed to a group of Hebrew Christians who were considering leaving their new Christian faith and returning to their previous Jewish faith. They were considering this because being a Christian was very unpopular in their day and, in fact, they were being persecuted because they were Christians. This intense persecution was causing these Hebrew Christians to reconsider their conversion. But, let’s face it, in the face of real persecution it’s hard to blame these folks. It’s understandable they would be tempted to give up. Call it the ultimate “buyer’s remorse.”
But St. Paul, over and over again in Hebrews preaches that they are foolish to do this because Jesus IS the ultimate fulfillment of all the promises God made to our father Abraham in the First Testament. Jesus is better than Moses. He even says as much early in the book of Hebrews.
But the key for us today in all this BETTER wisdom is how we can avoid giving up on our faith or allowing our faith to become mere window dressing for our lives. And to overcome that temptation to give up is to “consider Jesus.”
Paul challenges us to avoid giving up by keeping our focus on the Person of Jesus Christ and His actions for our benefit. He challenges us to take seriously the life and death and resurrection and present reality of Jesus Christ as the key to staying faithful even when it isn’t easy, like now!
Jesus is our “Apostle and High Priest.” In fact, all apostles and priests aren’t apostles and priests themselves. No, they share in the one apostleship and priesthood of Jesus. If I am going to overcome the temptation to give up, I have to remember and find ways to remind myself daily, even sometimes moment by moment, that Jesus Christ is in charge. He’s the Head and we are His Body, the Church. I’m not in charge of my life. I am one who has embraced the “heavenly calling” to follow Jesus. He’s the Lord of my life!
Jesus is Faithful to the One Who appointed Him. Over and over again in the Gospels, we hear the Lord say that He says only what the Father told Him to say. He only does what the Father told Him to do. And He even becomes obedient to a death on the cross, not allowing the temporary pain and suffering of that humiliating and excruciating death to keep Him from not giving up! So, if I am seriously a follower of Jesus, I am not going to allow the sufferings and temporary pain or even ridicule of others about my faith to make me give up. I have one Lord, Jesus. I refused to give power to anyone or anything else to change that reality!
So, today, are you suffering? Are you in pain? Are you considering giving up on your faith or are you willing to hide your faith from others so that they won’t think you are foolish? It’s time to consider Jesus and learn the humility and wisdom of being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, I confess I’ve thought about giving up a few times in my life. You know already. And when those times came it was because I forgot that I don’t have to do this all by myself. I forgot that I have You, and St. Barnabas, and my brothers and sisters all around me. But I was embarrassed to admit I was weak or vulnerable. I thought others would think less of me. I was wrong, Lord. Please help me in those dark times to not forget. Amen