“We grew up with these people. I love them. Our lives are so intertwined. Our families have known each other for generations. We have, or should I say, had so much in common. We live beside them; we share important occasions with them and we have devoutly followed the same religious beliefs. But increasingly, I’m feeling torn. I feel a division occurring. I don’t seem to be on their spiritual wave-length anymore. Should I give up what I have found in Christ?”
That was the predicament of Christians back in AD 60-70 when the Epistle to the Hebrews was written and it’s still one of the most difficult hurdles for a new Christian to get over today.
The 1st century believers who had turned to Christ from Judaism were feeling the heat of rejection. The religion of their parents had so much pomp and ceremony: special garments, glistening utensils, altars, lavers, curtains, gold and silver, etc. It was just so tangible and visible. Plus, they grew up with it and everyone they knew was still practicing the religion of their fathers.
“I put my faith in Christ alone. He died for my sins. I was so thrilled when I made that discovery. To have a personal relationship with Christ means everything to me. But here’s the issue: my family scoffed at me when I told them He lived inside me and that I had a personal relationship with Him. They mocked me when I told them Christ is my salvation; they think you must ‘work’ to obtain salvation. They said: ‘Show us!’ Everything they have can be seen and touched; but what I have, is totally spiritual and by faith. I have Christ.”
The writer to the Hebrews sums up the whole point of his letter to the ‘Jewish’ Christians, in a message something like this: “Your altar is Christ Himself. He’s the substance – the reality. You have no need for rituals and symbols anymore. Those things were all shadows of the substance. The organized religion you grew up with has no room for Christ. It is all about rituals – not about HIM. In fact, it was religion that took Him outside the city (camp) and crucified HIM in shame and reproach.”
Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. Hebrews 13:13
It’s not easy to leave it all behind – all that you grew up with. It’s not easy to say goodbye to church pews where you always sat with your family. It’s not easy to attend a family reunion with family members whom you will always love but to know and deeply feel there is a spiritual Grand Canyon between you and them.
But outside the camp you really must go, if you are ever going to amount to anything for Christ. You can’t stay on the side of a religion that teaches salvation by works. You will feel the reproach of being rejected. They will sneer and say – “Show us what you have! You have nothing to show for it all. Look at our church. Look at the sanctuary. Look at the stain glass windows. Look at the paintings and all the symbols! Listen to the music. All you have is, simply, this man – Jesus Christ! He’s all you talk about. You have been duped!”
Those stinging words hurt deeply. They threw insults at Him too. He was, and still is, outside the religious camp that promotes ‘salvation by human effort’. If you want to be where He is – you need to leave and go ‘outside the camp’ and enjoy HIM and be with fellow believers who enjoy Him but who also know what it is to suffer reproach.
Continue to love your family deeply and do everything possible for them but honor Christ by going where He truly is.
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ
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