Hebrews 10:32-39 is a sobering reminder of the suffering early Christians endured. I’ve never been persecuted for my religious beliefs, so I can’t imagine their suffering. I must be mindful that many are still suffering because of their faith. As I write this, my heart goes out to all who have, are, and will continue to die because they are unwilling to deny what they believe. I’ve often wondered how I would react if my life depended upon denying my God. What if my son or his family were in danger of death because of my faith. Would I allow them to die or would I deny Christ. Peter was sure he would never betray Christ, but he did three times within hours of telling Jesus face to face that he would die before denying Him. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul asked them to remember when they first learned about Christ. That’s good advice for all of us.
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while,
the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. (NLT)
Paul knew a complacent church was more dangerous than a persecuted one. Christians in the United States are the most complacent on the planet and have been for a very long time. If we spent a tenth of the time we spend arguing about politics in whole-hearted worship, our country and our world would have a very different opinion of us. There are better things waiting for all of us, things that will last forever. The problem with the complacent church is that they like the way things are now. Easy. Comfortable.
I don’t want Christians in this country to ever be persecuted. God forbid that anyone anywhere should have to die because of their religious beliefs. I’m just saying that complacency kills more effectively than a bullet to the heart. When a Christian becomes complacent, only those nearest to them notice. Some even see it as a step in the right direction. The honeymoon is over, so we can get back to business as usual.
I believe Christ uses a bride to describe His church because a bride is anything but complacent. Her love and eager anticipation keep her heart focused upon love. Keeping my heart in honeymoon mode keeps me where God wants me to be. The only way to cure complacency is remembering when I first fell in love and being mindful of the suffering of the early church and the persecuted church of today.
Marriage counselors tell complacent couples to think back to their courtship days , remember what made them fall in love in the first place, and do it again. That’s a great strategy for Christ’s bride, as well.