It goes without saying that the Christian pathway is not always a stroll in the park. In fact, the life of a Christian is often compared to a battleground: an ongoing struggle between the old self (the sinful nature) and the new self. All of us find ourselves daily in situations where we have to choose between what is right and what is easy – between God’s way and our way. A key contributor to this continuous struggle is the fact that we are being gradually transformed to be more and more like Jesus. Romans 12:2 says that we are to
‘be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]’.
So in a sense it is a good thing if we are struggling – it shows we are going in the right direction!
But when we encounter these struggles, it can be tempting just to revert to our old ways. We all have a comfort zone – a thought in our minds of, ‘How easy it would be if I lived my life just for myself’. It can seem so appealing to live a life for God ‘under the radar’ – going through some token motions, but nothing more. Satan can use this temptation so subtly that, before we know it, we are neglecting the fundamental principles of a Christian lifestyle and our service for God is practically non-existent.
These temptations and dips in enthusiasm are not new phenomena – in fact, they troubled even the very earliest Christians. The book of Hebrews is a letter addressed primarily to converted Jews – Jews who had heard and believed the message of the gospel. Accepting the Christian message called for real faith on their part, but many of them must have struggled with the fact that some of the teachings of their ancestors had now been overhauled. Was this really the way that God wanted them to do things now?
This is why much of the book of Hebrews addresses the superiority of Christ compared to those who had gone before. Hebrews 3:1–6 talks about Christ’s superiority to Moses. Here, the writer draws comparisons between Jesus and Moses, describing both as being ‘faithful to the one who appointed him’ (verse 2). But then, crucially, verse 3 says,
‘Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself.’
So the writer uses the analogy of a house and its builder to demonstrate Jesus’ authority to set aside the old covenant – the God-given traditions of the Jews. But this picture of a house and a builder has special implications for us as well. Hebrews 3:6 says,
‘Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.’
So this analogy is now not just an analogy – God’s house is real, and we who hold on tightly to the teachings of Jesus passed down through the apostles are a part of it. To be part of God’s house is not something that we can fully appreciate, but we know that it has been made possible by what Jesus has done for us, and we know that he is the ‘son over God’s house’ – greater than Moses, and all the other Old Testament leaders, and alive today!
Verse 6 finishes by reminding us to
‘hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast’.
And when (not if!) we are presented with a struggle, a mismatch of our will and God’s, we must remember our primary focus:
‘Therefore, holy brothers, fix your thoughts on Jesus’.
This is the only means by which we will be transformed, because it’s he who does the transforming.
Giles Hickling, the Church of God in Manchester