If it was difficult for the early Church communities to carry on, to have faith, after the original leaders had died and the promised Last Day had not come, is there any surprise among Christians twenty one centuries later that so many in our own time are succumbing to the subtle threats of indifference and doubt?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
The Letter to the Hebrews was written sometime early in the second century. The original leaders, like Paul, are dead by the time of this letter. Because there is a reference to Timothy in (Heb 13:23) it suggests that there is a direct connection to the circle of Paul and his assistants. Its purpose seems to be to address the apparent danger of apostasy, in the communities to whom it is addressed. This danger of apostasy is not so much because of the difficulties of persecution, but because of a growing weariness in living up to the demands of the Christian life.
This is why this letter is so important to us today. If it was difficult for the early Church communities to carry on, to have faith, after the original leaders had died and the promised Last Day had not come, is there any surprise among Christians twenty one centuries later that so many in our own time are succumbing to the subtle threats of indifference and doubt?
The Christian life has not been proven to be wrong by any human argument, philosophy, or science. Rather, in our own time, it is succumbing to a pathological and spiritual indifference marked by boredom. This boredom is rooted in the fact that nothing finite or material, that is, body, wealth, or fame is eternal. Rather, it is ultimately finite, fleeting, empty and unsatisfying. But today, this boredom drives millions of our contemporaries, to buy more toys, or to switch sexual partners, or to experiment with more and more dangerous “thrills,” in a futile attempt to be happy. The motivation of much of modern life is really more akin to a kind of dread, a dread of “missing out” on something. This is not living, this is succumbing to nothingness. The real Christian life, then and now, is rooted in the knowledge and faith that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” His love for us has not changed. His commitment to us remains the same. The Christian life is rooted in the eternally present Jesus Christ. He is present with us today in the infinite and eternal power of his Holy Spirit. The life he lived, and that he commands us to continue to live with our own lives, is as important to the well being of the Christian community and the world today as it was in the second century Church. His commandment to love one another as he loved us is still the most important duty of our Christian faith. The Christian life is full of the ever present, unchanging life of Jesus Christ.
It is paramount that those of us who believe in Jesus Christ should remain ever vigilant against the temptations of lethargy, indifference, and boredom today. There has never been a time when there has been so much “Vanity Fair” window dressing made so readily and instantly available to us. This is why it is even more important for us to read, to contemplate, and to pray over the advice we find in the Holy Scriptures. There is no boredom, indifference, or weariness in following Jesus Christ. Those ephemeral and debilitating things disappear when we develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus invites us into life, that is, real life, a life of otherness, a life lived out of love for the other, a life that chooses each day to be compassionate, welcoming to all, interested in the good of all. God uses our willing and humble commitment to the goodness, the mercy, and the forgiveness that Jesus Christ lived, to foster a desire for eternal life in others. A Christian life, lived to the fullest in Jesus Christ, will never be boring, will never fall into lazy indifference. It is too much alive for such lifeless things.
Lord, help us to live into the Christian life more intimately and purposefully each day. We believe that you are the same yesterday and today and forever. Fill our spirits with the courage of this conviction. We wish to honor your eternal faithfulness with our own lives. We pray this in the power of your eternal name, Jesus. Amen!