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Toward Wholeness Blog

Hebrews in Four Sessions - part 1

I'll be speaking this weekend in Southern California at a place called Forest Home. At a time when the church is polarized, confused, angry, weary, and horribly tribal, I'm convinced that the book of Hebrews is worth revisiting. It's written to people who are facing unprecedented challenges in their faith lives, and the result is that some are slowly, but inexorably, drifting. Over the course of this Memorial Day weekend, I'll be posting some daily thoughts surrounding each session. Please scroll down for my thoughts regarding the first session.

The first session is important because if we learn anything from church history, its that the church has almost always had blind spots, seen only later through the lens of history. We've been good at fixating on some portion of the truth, while ignoring other parts. If you've watched "The Crown" on Netflix, its clear that the Church of England took divorce and remarriage seriously, at least publicly and on paper. Meanwhile, colonial expansion was not just tolerated, but accepted as the good and right will of God. I only point to this as an example of blindness, not to throw stones. We all have blind spots - our challenge, though, is to continue growing and learning so that we bring blind spots out into the light of truth and address them. How do we do that?

It begins by making Christ, and Christ alone, the full and final reference point for ethics. The suffering servant rebuked nationalism, violence, greed, hatred of enemies, disregard of marriage, disregard of people on the margins, and more. The reality is that though God has spoken at various times through various voices down through history, none of us presently advocating the death penalty for adultery, or forbidding the wearing of wool and linen together, or the eating of bacon (thanks be to God!). This is because we believe that God's revelation evolved, so that God's character could be seen with greater clarity as the centuries past. All this culminated in the revelation of Jesus - the 'exact representation of God'. You want to know God's heart? Become obsessed with Jesus.

Sadly, we've lost some of that. We've drifted into "Jesus plus..." It's not that we've discarded Jesus, at least for many of us that's not the problem. That would be too blatant. Instead we've created cocktails, Jesus with a dash of nationalism, or white supremacy, or socialism, or critical race theory, or environmentalism, or 2nd ammendment rights, as if these movements are somehow part of genuine faith. I have news for you... they aren't. Some of the movements may even contain some truth that's important and aligned with Christ, but we need to make sure that we never marry nations, or political parties, or movements to Jesus, because then we lose the single hearted devotion that is foundational to sustainable faith.

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