In our daily living, we often come across the question about what is acceptable worship. We read and study our Bibles and we pull from one doctrine to another. It can feel overwhelming and complicated at times to be honest if we do have not a clear direction on how to properly worship the Lord. It can honestly feel like you are getting tossed from one wild wave to another, and for this reason, so many Christians slowly allow their Bibles to be covered by more and more dust. They go into their Sunday services or watch it online and yet they are not yielding the fruits that come from sincere worship and dedication to Jesus Christ in their lives. I was prompted about this when conducting my personal Bible study this week and I would like to illuminate the Holy Spirits message through the Biblical author of Hebrews. So, today’s message is coming directly from the thirteenth chapter of the book of Hebrews. First, I would like to slowly breakdown the meat and proper context of this Scripture and then how to apply it into our lives.
In chapter thirteen, the biblical author provides us all with a model of acceptable worship to Jesus Christ. He highlights the obligations that every Christian is expected to live up to and how it leads us to come to a place of acceptable worship of the Lord. He also teaches us how to be productive members of the Body of Christ. It is upon this understanding that we can fully grasp the way we should be living and it is a direct reminder of what Jesus Christ taught us in His ministry.
In verses one through six, the author shares with his audience the moral obligation that they should have for one another and their neighbors. He reminds them that they must have a personal kindness to their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to strangers, and to prisoners (both those in physical and spiritual chains). This is not the first time we have heard this, Jesus himself taught us this in Mark 12:30-31 when He said to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The biblical author was simply reminding his readers of what our Lord and Savior originally taught his disciples. The author continues to move forward to remind his readers of the sanctity of their marriages and relationships. He tells them to run away from any temptation of sexual vice or sin. He continues by reminding them to not be greedy or covet others for things that they do not have. It is a humble reminder that we should be joyful and satisfied with what God has already provided us with. Once again, this is a reminder of Jesus’ warning against this sin when He said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions,” (Luke 12:15). This is because even if we are provided with little physical blessings, we still have the spiritual blessing of having Jesus in our lives and that is more than enough! In essence, we truly do not lack anything in our lives.
In verses eight through nine, the author shifts his focus on the religious direction we should be moving towards. He reminds us to remember our past spiritual leaders and their “way of life.” We are to imitate their steadfast faith in Christ and the fruitfulness of a life dedicated to Jesus. This is to remind his audience that even if their spiritual mentor/leader has passed, Jesus, the person in who they spoke and taught about is still living here today and will always remain. His love and grace are everlasting, and most importantly, so is His promise of salvation through repentance. As we continue to read, the apostle reminds his audience in the ninth verse to reject and refute any doctrine that goes against the unchanging and unwavering message that was taught us by Jesus Christ. We are once again reminded of Jesus’ teaching that only those who “do” what He has commanded are His friends (John 15:14). It highlights true discipleship to the one who paid the price of our sins and commissioned us to share this Truth with those with able ears.
As we continue reading, the apostle reminds us to consistently offer praise and once again to “do” good (verses 15-16). He also reminded his audience to share with others their truth and to respect their spiritual leaders (verse 17). The reason for this is because we as the Christian body should never hinder the calling and anointing of someone who is shepherding us by “example.” We need to be mindful to not allow our rebelliousness or disobedience to God’s will hinder the one He appointed over us. In Christianity, the best leaders are the best followers. The more we follow Christ and emulate Him, the easier it is for others to do the same. This is especially true for the called shepherds of His body. Regardless of their vocation or calling, they are appointed over us by God himself and that should be respected. So we must be mindful of our rebellion towards our spiritual leadership so it will not hinder them from helping others as God has called them to do.
Now, we come across the big question. Why is this important to me and how should we apply this biblical truth into our lives. Ultimately, the great design of Jesus Christ giving himself upon the cross for us was so He could purchase us. He not only purchased us but He also redeemed us for Himself. Once we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we become a particular group of people (Christians), who are demanded by the Holy Spirit to be zealous of doing good works. From the moment we say “I do” to Jesus, we have mandated to sanctify ourselves and to carry our cross. We become partakers of not only Christ’s grace and mercy but also bear the same sacrifice He did for others. We must transition ourselves from a worldly way of thinking and acting (thinking solely of yourself), and transition to a spiritually mature way of thinking (being able to put other’s needs before our own needs). This true “religion” is that of a strong bond of friendship and love. We are taught this over and over again in the Scriptures but most importantly it was lived out by Jesus himself.
Our faith is one of action, if not, our life is not in line with our belief in Jesus Christ. We are to live a life worthy of His sacrifice. It is a difficult journey though and we will have many ups and downs but it is worth every minute. We directed to emulate Jesus’ physical and spiritual humility towards everyone. This author is reminding us of this by explaining how we should be both morally and spiritually as Christians. We must be strong enough to follow Jesus’ example because we are given so much! However difficult, we can always draw our strength in the fact that Jesus loved us so much that He died for us. He lived out his ministry and showed us through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside Him that it is possible to live a holy life. You see, the same Spirit that filled Christ and allowed him to perform miracles and fight against every temptation is the same Spirit that lifted him from the grave. This same Spirit, the very essence of God Himself lives inside each one of us and it is only when we can sacrifice ourselves for Christ and others can its true power flow through our veins. If you want to be a world tuner, it is only through His Spirit that can allow you to do it. To do this, we must remove the “I’s” and our lives and focus on helping and loving others. Christ did not die so His truth will die with us, but to continue living through each person who comes to know Him through us.
With this understanding, we are expected to live a life of action. A life full of love, humility, stewardship, and example for others to emulate. Did Jesus not do the same for us? The reason why this is so important to understand and apply to our lives is that in most circumstances, our lives will be the only Bible people will ever read. Do you want them to Jesus or do you want them to run from Him? Only we can make this choice by how we live and love them. It does not matter if they are Christians or not. It does not matter if they live a life full of sin or not. Who are we to judge? We are not commanded to judge everyone but to love them where they are at. Is this not what Jesus did for us? Shouldn’t we do the same for others? Do we want to be more like Jesus or more like our old self? This means that we must hold ourselves accountable for living a holy and righteous life. We are given this ability through the power of the Holy Spirit after our baptism and must call upon His power to live in a manner worthy of being called a Christian.
We must also help our brothers and sisters in Christ with a weaker resolve than our own to be able to live up to His standard. A life of discipleship and example is not only worthy sacrifice to Jesus but also an acceptable form of worship. Living out His love is what we are all called to do. You see, it is not about studying Scriptures and memorizing Bible verses, because the truth of Jesus Christ should be living within us. My brothers and sisters, we must “do” and not simply read (Luke 10:25-28). The message is not one of conviction but of personal reflection. It is up to us if we can be an acceptable form of worship or not to Jesus. It is your personal choice. Amen.