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Faith Connects (FaithWorks 5)

. 4 min read

2013/08/04

Hebrews 12.14-29, with Genesis 25.29-34 and Psalm 99

Review:

            extended
sermon

            faith
endures

            lest we
think this is a private endurance event (Craddock), the “American” story, Faith
CONNECTS

Two directions for our connection, encapsulated by the first
verse in this section: “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without
which no one will see the Lord” (12.14). 
In the passage as a whole, there is more language about connecting with
God in holiness and worship.  Yet, there
is an understanding that this connection with God does not occur without a
healthy connection with God’s people. 

Jesus said,
“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your
brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the
altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and
offer your gift” (Matthew 5.23-24).  And,
Hebrews says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no
root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble” (12.15).  Being in the grace of God and being free of
bitterness – at peace with everyone – are intimately connected.

So, when we
say, “The peace of Christ be with you”, we are making a powerful statement: “I
forgive you.  Please forgive me.  Let there be nothing to separate us.”

Pursue Peace:

            Annie
Dillard, throwing snow balls at passing car

                        An
American Childhood

            Greek –
even of hostile pursuit, persecution … aggressive!

            Esau –
bitter

                        wanted
his brother dead

                        tears,
but no repentance (translation differences – who repents)

                        unwilling
to recognize his role in the conflict

                        “I’m
so sorry, but it was really your fault”

            Anne
LaMott, “Nursing a grudge is like drinking rat poison

                        and
expecting the rat to die”

Pursue Holiness:

Holiness and seeing the Lord
            “Holiness”,
part of the vocabulary for worship (before vocab of rules)

            “Defiling”,
bitterness is a defiling root (Craddock 154) – opposite

Holiness and the ancient worship of Israel

            cleansing
ceremonies

            sacrifice

themes in the book of Hebrews, holiness as

            gift of God
(Jesus the priest and the sacrifice)

            something
we lay hold of

2 contrasts, one longer than the other, each ending with
exhortation

            you have
not come (12.18-21)

            but you
have come (12.22-24)

            exhort: “do
not refuse the one who is speaking” (12.25)

                        His
blood speaks: You are cleansed

                        Why
would we refuse that?  Because it’s all
about me.

            at that
time his voice shook the earth (12.26)

            but now he
has promised … not only the earth but also the heaven (26)

            exhort: “let
us give thanks

                        since
we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (12.28)

                        Waking
up during an earthquake

Worship is about God, the consuming fire, … not about me,
my tastes and preferences, trends in worship of the 1950s or the 2020s, whether
or not I feel fed.  Now, we hope to be
fed, but we are fed by God, not according to our tastes.  Eat your vegetables.  It’s good for you.

            Arabic
worship – not understand anything

            Movement – children
dancing … not me!

Take Home:

            forgive
(pursue peace)

            receive
forgiveness (pursue holiness)

            turn your
life inside out, so that it is all about Jesus, not me

Resources:

Fred B. Craddock. 1998. Hebrews in The New
Interpreter’s Bible, Vol XII.
Nashville:
Abingdon Press.

Annie Dillard. An American Childhood.
Anne LaMott, cited by Bill Hybels, Global Leadership Summit
2013