This morning I lost my wallet. Well lost is probably not the correct word, I temporarily misplaced it. Whenever I lose something, especially something important, I get anxious, even frantic. Most people have outgrown the problem of losing their keys or their wallet by having specific places to put it. I struggle with this (I often give the excuse that it's because it is how my brain works, while true it's an excuse) because I have not taken the time and effort to develop a pattern of where to put my important stuff. I am a very forgetful person, my dad used to say I would forget my head if it was not attached, but with the proper effort and training, I could learn to change my ways.
Friends, the same is true with our faith. We must choose to put effort and energy into growing in mature followers of Jesus. Check out Hebrews 6:1-9:
So let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word. Let’s not lay a foundation of turning away from dead works, of faith in God, of teaching about ritual ways to wash with water, laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment—all over again. We’re going to press on, if God allows it.Because it’s impossible to restore people to changed hearts and lives who turn away once they have seen the light, tasted the heavenly gift, become partners with the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age. They are crucifying God’s Son all over again and exposing him to public shame. The ground receives a blessing from God when it drinks up the rain that regularly comes and falls on it and yields a useful crop for those people for whom it is being farmed. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it’s useless and close to being cursed. It ends up being burned.
Imagine if we decided to stop learning as soon as we learned about our ABCs or basic arithmetic. It would seriously stunt our growth. This scripture in verse 4 and 5 lay out a great description of becoming a Christian. First you 'see the light' and are able to recognize the desperate need for a relationship with God through Christ and see the truth of the world around you. From there you taste the heavenly gift: which is to experience new life through Jesus (not just waiting for eternal life to begin with death, but a renewed life today!). Then you are given the Holy Spirit and a taste of the good word. Experiencing Jesus and scripture is like a refreshing jump into a pool on a hot summers day! Finally, we get a taste of what is to come in the new age, of the heaven on earth through the faith and the Christian community. That gives us a longing for what is to come. He also (in verse 1 and 2) describes the basics of the faith: repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection and the judgment of the coming age.
So what is all this about 'impossible to restore people to changed hearts and lives (repentance)' once they have followed Jesus and then chosen to actively oppose what God is doing in this world and reject him? This seems to directly oppose what Paul is saying in Romans 5-8, that nothing can separate us from the love of God! Perhaps the author is using one of Jesus' techniques, hyperbole. If we believe nothing is impossible for God and then there is no place that Jesus cannot reach us. I think the main point the author is making is the deep importance to press on toward maturity in faith. That if we do not continue to grow in our faith, that we might end up rejecting it and it is incredibly difficult to come back to where you were before. So many young people are in this place today. Where once they believed, they fell away from the church and now that they are in a place of comfortable complacency, they may never return to following Jesus. We must 'drink up the rain regularly' so that we can continue to progress toward the goal of a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus and being his disciples who work with God toward the transformation of the world.
Have you settled for 'the basics' of the faith rather than pushing forward toward maturity? If so I invite you to dive deep. Find a life group to help you walk into the deeper waters. Find a mentor who is a little wiser, a little more experienced. Find a way to use your gifts for God and see where that takes you. Spend time with our Lord in prayer and scripture, deepening your relationship. Because if we stick to the basics, we are in danger of walking away from God, from the church. And when we do, it is much more difficult to come back. So I invite you to press on to maturity!