This past Wednesday, Pete Theil, Amy Gordon, Peg Pickard and I met in the morning for prayer. We started by reading Hebrews 3:1-6, meditating on it for several minutes in silence, then offering something that really stood out to us from the text. We did this twice. And though I had been prepping for one topic, I realized I have at least 6 sermons to preach out of just this paragraph.
That’s not going to happen :) What I would like to do, though, is walk through this passage with you the way our small group did. This is going to break a lot of sermon rules because these are not necessarily related topics (though you will see at the end they tell one story). But I think it might be worth a break for the normal sermon approach to highlight a way to read and focus on the Bible that may be helpful for you in your reading of the Bible. Also, there are potentially 6 topics for you to pursue further on your own this week. Here is the passage:
So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let’s turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess; and compare Him to Moses, who also brought words from God to all God’s people (household). Both of them were faithful to their missions, to the One who called them. But we value Jesus more than Moses, in the same way that we value a builder more than the house he builds. Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Moses brought healing and redemption to his people as a faithful servant in God’s house, and he was a witness to the things that would be spoken later. But Jesus the Anointed was faithful as a Son of that house. (We become that house, if we’re able to hold on to the confident hope we have in God until the end.)
- All of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling.
If we are followers of Jesus, we are holy partners in a heavenly calling. That’s amazing. Also, that’s sobering.All of those who follow Jesus are holy partners. Do I treat them that way? Do I think, pray for, speak about, and speak to my fellow believers as if we are holy partners in a heavenly calling? The implications here are huge. We are fulfilling a heavenly calling as a team,and I should want this team to be as strong as it can be.
- I must encourage, challenge, build up, and comfort.
- I must be patient, kind, long-suffering, gentle, and bold.
- I must love deeply, thoroughly, and exhaustively.
What would change in our lives if we filtered our attitudes, words and actions through this filter? How would the power of the gospel be more clearly seen in us? How much more would Jesus be glorified if his people treated his people as holy partners in a heavenly calling?
- Let’s turn our attention/fix our thoughts on/focus on/consider Jesus, the Emissary of Godand High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess.
This isn’t glance at Jesus; this is be riveted with Jesus.
- When I met Sheila, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her when she was in the room. It didn’t matter what else was going on, my eyes always went to her.
- The first several times I went to Costa Rica, they laughed at me because I couldn’t stop talking about the mountains and taking pictures. Everywhere we went, that’s what I kept looking at.
- I have three papers at eye level in front of my desk in the office. The first is a list Delynn gave me years ago about Humility, and it lists the fruits of pride. The second is a note I wrote myself after talking with my spiritual mentor several years ago: “Trusting God to carry me = trusting God to carry others.” The third is my certificate of ordination. The first one grounds me. The second one comforts me. The third one motivates me.
What does it look like to focus on Jesus? How do I not take my eyes off of him? How do I “pin him” on the wall in front of me? What does it look like for my attention to be constantly drawn to Jesus? When we fix our eyes on something, two things happen:we are guided, and we are comforted.
- I learned that in weightlifting, your body follows your eyes. If you are doing a squat, don’t look down or up. You will tend to fall forward or backward. Look straight ahead. If you want to plant a straight row in a field, find a landmark on the other side of the field and never look away. We are guidedby where we fix our eyes.
- After my accident, I kept my gaze fixed on the road because I wanted that ambulance to get there. When it finally pulled into view, I relaxed. We are comfortedwhen what we have been longing for appears. (We are given hope; encouraged; we can endure).
What do I spend the majority of my time considering? What’s fixed right in front of me on the wall of my life? What guides me and comforts me? What orders my steps throughout the day, and what helps me rest?
- And compare Him to Moses, who also brought words from God to all of God’s people. Both of them were faithful to their missions, to the One who called them. But we value Jesus more than Moses, in the same way that we value a builder more than the house he builds.
The first thing I thought was that I’m not sure I tend to value the builder more than the house. Even if you build a multi-million dollar house, you want to the builder to be good, but do you really value the builder more than the house? I’ve been in and around construction for most of my adult life, and I’ve seen a loooooot of people who give their houses much more value than they do the builder. How do I know this? Because they treat the builder like crap, but they treat their house as if it were made of gold.
I think this is because we are consumers by default in our fallen nature. Our sinful nature values that things we are given more than the people who gives it. Our sinful nature values what people can do for us more than who they are. And dare I say that our sinful nature defaults toward valuing the things of God more than God. What do we think about more:
- The healing God can give us vs. The Healer himself?
- The friends we want God can give us vs. The Friend of Sinners?
- The gifts of the Spirit vs. The Giver of the Gifts?
- The comfort of God vs. the Comforter himself?
- The way of God vs. the One who is The Way?
- Life more abundant vs. the One who gives that life?
There is something important about the spiritual discipline of fixing our eyes on the builder so that we never value what has been made or given more than the One who made it and gave it to us.
- Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
First thing that stand out: God built everything.
Second thing that stands out: who is building the house of my life? Well, as a Christian, I know God is. After he begins a good work, he keeps on going. But what outside contractors am I hiring to help him build my house? It’s one thing to have subcontractors that the Builder brings in and uses. I think of this as Christian friends and mentors, authors and preachers and theologians and musicians who love and honor God. But am I inviting competing builders to work on this one house? That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Isn’t the command to have no other gods kind of like saying no other builders in this context?
Another way of saying this: what or whom am I choosing for my formation? We talked a couple weeks ago about spiritual disciplines, pursuing purposeful formation in Christ. I wonder, though, for how many of us accidental formation is happening in us in ways we don’t see.
- What builds our thoughts about politics? A particular news network or party line, or the Bible?
- What builds our thoughts about sex and marriage? Culture or the Bible?
- What builds our thoughts about parenting?
- What builds our thoughts about what it means to be successful?
- What builds our thoughts about immigrants and refugees?
- What builds our thoughts about how to run a business, or be a good employee?
- What builds our thoughts about money?
- What builds our thoughts about church?
- What builds our thoughts about how we should use our speech?
- What builds our thoughts about what’s okay when it comes to how we treat others, especially those with whom we disagree?
- What actually builds our thoughts about God? And Sin? And Salvation? And Forgiveness?
Bidden or unbidden, we all have builders. Who are we inviting to build?
5.Moses brought healing and redemption to his people as a faithful servant in God’s house, and he was a witness to the things that would be spoken later. But Jesus the Anointed was faithful as a Son of that house.
“He delivered the Word of God faithfully. He was faithful in all God appointed him to do (Exodus 40:16).” Is there any greater compliment in the Kingdom of God than to have it said we have been faithful in delivering the word of God and bringing healing and redemption to God’s people?
- If the questions is,“What do you want to do with your life?”the answer must be, “Be faithful in delivering the word of God and bringing healing and redemption to God’s people.”
- If the question is,“What is God’s plan for me?”The answer must me, “Be faithful in delivering the word of God and bringing healing and redemption to God’s people.” “No, I meant like what job I should get or who I should marry or even if I should get married or….”I understood the question. You can be faithful in delivering the word of God and bringing healing and redemption to God’s people in every circumstance.
Also, there is no room for hero worship in Christianity unless it’s Jesus. The writer of Hebrews already pointed out that, though angels are awesome, they are nothing compared to Jesus. Now he’s noting that Moses, a hero to the Jewish people, is a servant in the house of God. Jesus is the Son whom Moses serves. We can’t become infatuated with servants when we have access to the Master.
I read this and I wonder: do I have a tendency to elevate servants of God higher than I should? I can simultaneously say, “That person is a faithful servant of God,” and say, “But that house needs some cleaning.”
6. We become that house, if we’re able to hold on to the confident hope we have in God.
What house do we become? The house of God’s people, the church. That’s what we are becoming. A house full of holy partners in a heavenly calling. What a tremendous privilege and responsibility.
If…. Is this conditional? Does this mean we might not become that house of we don’t hold on to the hope we have in God until the end? We can talk in Message Plus about whether or not we can lose our salvation. For our purposes, I just want to make this point: RighteousPerseveranceis the proof of the reality of salvation. Not ease, or comfort, or signs and wonders. Not size of ministry or greatness of reputations or good deeds. Not book deals or gold dust or radio shows or a theology degree or even a well worn Bible. Righteous Perseverance.
We can tell if we are really in the house of God because we stay in the house of God in a life of surrender, repentance, and a commitment to worshiping God with our imperfect lives while we hold fast to the hope we have in Christ; that is, his love and sacrifice will cover a multitude of my sins.
And once we “be,” we start to “become”:Think of a telescope unfolding one stage at a time until it functions at full strength. Our salvation unfolds until we experience its fullest expression at the return of Jesus and in the life to come (Romans 8:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Peter 1:6-9; Revelation 2:26-28) (preceptaustin.org)
These 6 different lines of thought give us one narrative: Fix our eyes on Jesus, the Master and Builder of our house, whose plan is to work in us until we die as he builds us and builds his church into the fullness of salvation and righteousness.