Hebrews 2:10-15 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” (Psalms 22:22) And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” (2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 8:17) And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” (Isaiah 8:18) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
This passage from Hebrews talks about Jesus and his efforts in “bringing many sons to glory.” We stand amazed at God’s love for mankind in giving man a chance to be saved through His Son, and we stand amazed at the cost to the Father, Son and Spirit to bring about our salvation. It should amaze us – we should bow in humble adoration and stand with our mouths agape at the fact that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. He understands temptations, trials, heartache, sickness, and he knows what it is like to lose a loved one to death (John 11). Yet, because of what Jesus did . . ..
He is not ashamed to call believers his brethren.
He, through His death, destroyed him who had the power of death.
He released those who through FEAR OF DEATH, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The fear of death. We don’t like to discuss our upcoming death; we do not know when that will be; and being afraid of death can become debilitating.
In Northwestern Medicine Health Beat (https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/emotional-health/5-things-you-never-knew-about-fear) the writer discusses the difference between fear and phobia (by the way, the Greek word for “fear” is phobos, from whence we get “phobia). This article makes this point, “The difference between fear and phobia is simple. Fears are common reactions to events or objects. But a fear becomes a phobia when it interferes with your ability to function and maintain a consistent quality of life. If you start taking extreme measures to avoid water, spiders or people, you may have a phobia.” Another article suggests that a phobia is a fear of fear itself.
The Hebrew writer emphasizes to us that Christians should not fear death as the world does, because Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that there is hope beyond the grave. The resurrection reminds us that that this life is not the end of who we are.
This does not mean that we should go out in the middle of the road and dare a truck to hit us, expecting God to miraculously deliver us at the last second. It does mean that we should not live our lives in fear of death, because there is something so much better waiting for the child of God.
2020 was a year that reminded many of us about the mortality of our lives. We became so fearful – fearful of going to the store, to church, to the doctor, to our relatives’ homes, to movies, sports events . . . you name it, we were fearful. We still are.
Many have stopped going to the assemblies of the saints because they are afraid of getting this virus. We have judged brothers and sisters that didn’t agree with us as to whether we should wear masks or not. We have become more cautious about everything, and while that is not necessarily bad or evil, it is not necessarily good, either. We have sequestered in our homes (and that has created another problem) – a lack of social contact and fellowship, which has created depression, more paranoia and even more heartache. Our aged Saints and our children are suffering because God created us as social beings, and when we are cut off from that interaction, we suffer physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Many are afraid that some of the saints that once attended the services of the Lord’s church faithfully will not come back because of fear. This is a legitimate concern.
This has caused some to be discouraged – discouraged because we have had many leave. Some are afraid to come back, and we understand why as well – they may be fragile because of other ailments, and do not want to do anything that may cause their passing from this world.
Others are just afraid of what getting the virus may mean to them and we understand that as well.
Without being judgmental at all of anyone that feels this way, it does reinforce the idea that we are attached to much in this world. We know what we have here. But for the Christian the joy of being with the Father, and the Son and the Spirit, as well as reuniting with loved ones gone before, should cause all of us to look forward to being with God. We should not fear death. I know that is easier said than done!
We have had our services going on for some time, on Sunday morning Bible classes, Sunday morning worship services as well as Sunday afternoons. As was the case before the pandemic, our numbers on Sunday afternoons are still way down from what they are on Sunday morning. We have not gone back to Wednesday evening Bible classes because of the lack of physical attendance at the building. We actually have more that “attend” ZOOM meetings on Wednesday evenings than we have had physical presences on Wednesday evenings before the pandemic.
What are some conclusions from these thoughts?
- 1.Christians should not fear death as the world does. This does not mean we dare death to take us, it does mean that we KNOW THERE is something beyond this life that is so much better than what we have here now.
- 2.This pandemic has created divisions among the body, and this, coupled with the election as well as social issues, has caused some to break fellowship with others. It has shown us our weaknesses. Beloved, because God has saved us, we should never let any physical thing keep us from the unity we have in Jesus Christ.
- 3.Many, who may have been looking for a reason not to attend services, have now been given one. May I suggest that we all examine WHY we choose to attend services or not? If I attend services to worship God and please Him; if I attend because I know that I need my brothers and sisters to ENCOURAGE me, (and I, them) then the motives will cause me to be faithful. If I attend because I want to be with God and his people – I will make every effort to do so. But if I attend for any other reason, well – – anything can become an excuse.
- 4.As a church, we need to examine ourselves honestly and forthrightly (See Revelation 2-3). ARE WE DOING WHAT WE CAN TO ENCOURAGE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS? At South Cobb are we a congregation that welcomes people, and desires to help others get to heaven? Or do we just go through the motions? What do we need to do to become a church like the first century, that worshipped God, encouraged brothers and sisters, aided the poor and weak, and preached the gospel to the world? What could we do to encourage people to WANT TO BE AT EVERY SERVICE of the Lord’s church?
These are some thoughts that I have been mulling around in my head for some time. Are we truly the “church of Christ?” Belonging to Christ, are we becoming like him? WHAT WOULD JESUS DO IF HE WERE ON EARTH RIGHT NOW – would he be afraid, or would he do exactly what he did while he was here? We know the answer.
THINK ON THESE THINGS – and PRAY.
Come Lord Jesus!