Like Button

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Practice, Practice, Practice

The author of Hebrews spends the first five chapters explaining the superiority of Christ over angels and earthly high priests. At the end of that initial passage, he writes this:
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:11-14)
The Hebrew Christians to which the book is written were falling short. They should have been teachers. Why? Well, they had the original Word of God. They had the original texts from God on the subjects of priests and sacrifices and angels and all that. And they had the proper teaching of the Apostles that connected all that to Christ. This stuff should have been natural, logical, abundantly clear. This wasn't rocket science; it was plainly obvious. But instead of moving on to greater heights, they needed milk, not meat. Why? What was their shortcoming? What mistake had they made?
Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)
That appears to be the error in their ways. That seems to be the shortfall. They had the oracles of God and the principles therein. They had the information they needed. They just didn't use it.

If you look around today, you'll likely find a lot of this in Christianity today. We have phenomenal access to God's Word. We have it translated to our language, constantly updated, constantly restated, readily available. We can read it and even listen to it. It's available free of charge. Easy access. Beyond that, we have amazing tools. We have Bible dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, commentaries, and centuries of teachers, preachers, and the like. We are not lacking in available resources or input. We do appear to lack precisely what the Hebrew readers lacked. We have failed to put the "principles of the oracles of God" into practice -- everyday use in everyday affairs and everyday circumstances.

What do we practice? Well, we're pretty savvy on the use of Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram. We have our favorite characters in our favorite TV shows or movies. (I've been hearing about the serious battles going on among fans of Star Wars, for instance, because the latest one failed to be accurate enough. Really? Inaccurate fiction?) We practice our favorite activities and favorite entertainments. But we do not generally have our powers of discernment trained by constant practice in distinguishing good from evil on the basis of the principles of the oracles of God. In act, we're not really keen on the principles of the oracles of God so much, right?

We are without excuse. We have been so blessed by God with so much so that we ought to be teachers of these things. And it's not like we don't have directions on what to do about it and where to go. You know ... practice God's Word. Know it well enough that it informs your everyday existence. Why would we not?

No comments: