Today’s reading is Hebrew 12:12-19.
I’m sure many of you can relate in some way to the post-4th of July struggle I’ve been dealing with. After a rather long stretch of admittedly being very sedentary, I was offered an opportunity to go water skiing at family’s this past weekend. It was a fun experience for sure, but let me tell you; it’s been a while since I’ve done anything similar, and I’d definitely forgotten how much upper-body, shoulder, and core strength you need for that. In the week since, my shoulders have been wildly sore, and after finally getting better, have been a good reminder of how I’ve let myself get weak physically.
When considering the example of Jesus and His continued holiness and spotlessness despite all He went through, Paul continues in Hebrews 12:12-29 on the importance of remaining strong and enduring in our faith. When we let our spiritual guard down and grow complacent and weary in our faith, Paul warns, we can not be guaranteed to live upright lives and lead others to do the same. And when we can not lead others to Christ and refuse what was commanded of us, we are reminded of what awaits – that we will be shaken away and “removed” when God fulfills His promise – “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”
When the Israelites approached Mount Sinai, in Exodus 19 & 20, it was an image of fury and fear – the people drawing away at the severity of the punishment of those within God’s presence not being worthy, leaving Moses alone to speak to God. But we are not approaching Sinai, Paul reminds us; we approach Zion, the hill on which Jerusalem and the kingdom of God sits, a place of joy where all right with God may be with Him, a place where Jesus has spoken on our behalf and ensured our salvation. It is this reverence and joy that drives us to stay strong in our faith, to stay upright, seeking and leading others to a more Godly life, in thanks of what Paul summarizes in verse 28: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
We are offered the kingdom of God and a chance to be apart; are you spiritually coasting, letting yourself grow weak, so that when a tough workout comes your way you will be left bruised and weary? Or are you immersed & strengthening your spirit at all times, so that when the time to lead others to Christ through word & examples comes, you will be able & willing? I pray that I would never lose sight of the need to stay strong and ready for Christ’s sake, and extend this prayer of self-reflection to you as well. May we never lose sight of He who shakes the earth & heavens, and has shaken up our lives to the point we can not help but offer reverence & awe.