Today, we’re reminding ourselves of what we covered in Chapters 3 and 4. There were two big ideas. The first being that we need to be people who’s actions line up with our beliefs. The second is that we need to intentionally surround ourselves with “comrades in the calling.”
Let’s rework that first idea a little bit: Rest is when the beliefs (Faith, desires, etc.) in our heart and actions of our lives line up with God’s promise.
There was much talk in the early part of Hebrews about the “rest” and entering “God’s rest.” Remember Hebrews 3:18 “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
With anxiety being through the roof, I think a lot of people would give a lot right now to have rest. Rest has a lot to do with peace which is wholeness. Being at rest is not something that can be accomplished by trying harder to accomplish it. When God rested in creation, it was because he had finished the work.
Rest for us will not come because we try harder to be a good Christian or because of our efforts towards God. Rest begins with the finished work of Jesus. God finished his work and rested. Jesus has finished the work of salvation and it seated at the right hand of The Majesty in heaven. He is at rest.
Rest does not mean no longer working. Jesus is at rest but still acting as our advocate and interceding on our behalf. Rest is not sleeping or lounging. Rest is when the beliefs in our heart and actions of our lives line up with God’s promise. Jesus is at rest because he came to earth and live a life of perfect belief. Yesterday we said that belief is a demonstration and that Jesus demonstrated His belief in the Father and His promises with the way he lived and died. He demonstrated His belief. More than that, his demonstration was in perfect alignment with God’s promise. God promised a savior, Jesus did what was necessary with His life to be that Savior.
When we have a hard time experience peace and rest, it’s likely because of one of those three things. Beliefs, actions or alignment with God’s promise. I have been experiencing anxiety firsthand lately. I have been experiencing anxiety. I’ve been worried. I’ve been having a hard time trusting God’s promise. As a pastor of a small church, we are constantly living on the edge. With the exception of a couple of years, it’s always been that way.
And yet, I know that God has promised that He WILL build His church and that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I know that God loves the church. I know that God will not only protect but provide for His church. I know that is God’s promise. But, I struggle with some underlying beliefs based on situations in churches in my past. Because of the way others made decisions that had a negative impact on my ability to provide for my family, I struggle with an underlying belief that isn’t in alignment with God’s promise. I know rationally what scripture says, but I still have a hard time with that belief in my heart. And, I would argue that’s why I’ve been feeling anxious.
Are you struggling with anxiety? Could it be that your beliefs or actions are out of alignment with God’s promises? Could there be an underlying belief that, though you know it to be a lie and you know what God’s promise is, you still believe and live by that lie?
The other big focus of that week was the people we surround ourselves with. In 3:1 the word for ’share’ can also be translated ‘comrades.’ “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters who are comrades in the heavenly calling.” It also shows up in 4:2. “They did not share/were not comrades in the faith of those who obeyed.”
Then right in the middle of chapter 3 we find this. “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Heb 3:12-14)
Another reason we struggle with anxiety is because of the people we have surrounded ourselves with. Especially the people we are ‘connected’ to online. I think a part of the problem is we are reducing our interaction with real life people and trading it out for the highly edited and manipulated interactions we have with people on social media platforms. When you know someone in real life, interact with them on a regular basis and so forth, you see ‘behind the curtain.’ You know when they’re being honest and fake, you know when something is off. They know when something is off with you.
At the same time, when we allow ourselves to be under the influence of many voices in the inter webs, many of whom aren’t believers, it’s easy to allow ourselves to start embracing a way of thinking that isn’t in line with God’s promise. And with the average smartphone user consuming around 3hrs of screen time per device and the average American consuming 11 hrs. of media content per day, it becomes easy to understand why so many believers are anxious. We have a belief system that stands in direct opposition to the the overwhelming flow of content that bombards us minute by minute.
What we need is intentional community with comrades in the calling. We need real life interaction with living, breathing human beings who are on the same Jesus journey as us. We need to be around others who’s faith builds up our faith and who’s faith is being built up by our faith. Believers who are strong where we are weak.
Are you wrestling with a belief that isn’t in line with God’s promise? Is that belief supported by your current ‘community’ be they real life or online? That might be why you’re struggling. Are you wrestling with an action that isn’t in line with God’s promise? Is that promise supported by the people you’ve surrounded yourself who embrace the opposing force? That might be a problem too.
It’s not easy or convenient, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be incredibly intentional about surrounding ourselves with people who are going in the same direction as us. We need to be people who encourage one another daily. We need to fight the fight with people who are fighting on the same side. It’s easier to paddle up stream when someone else is in your boat paddling with you.