Jerry Lee Lewis, that great social commentator, in 1957, sang “there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on”. What was true for the 1950s remains equally true in the 2020s. We are living through turbulent times. We face renewed volatility between nations, endure cost-of-living squeezes and are coming to terms with sweeping cultural changes. At a personal level, even the most dedicated followers of Jesus can hit the walls of trouble and tragedy or simply be ground down by the daily grind.

The result?

The flame of our first love for Christ flickers, and our stick-ability becomes, well, unstuck. We should not be surprised that long-haul living for Jesus is tough, after all, as G. K. Chesterton puts it, that’s exactly what we are promised:

“Jesus promised his disciples 3 things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”

Ever was it so.

A great deal of the writing of the first church leaders was aimed at “strengthening feeble hands, steading knees that give way, speaking to fearful hearts: “Be strong, do not fear.” (Isaiah 35:3,4)

The word of encouragement par excellence is the magnificent book of Hebrews. Somewhat overlooked, Hebrews is not a letter, nor a gospel but a rhetorically charged sermon targeted to bolster flagging faith, re-energise tired souls and build Jesus-centred resilience. It is written specifically so that we might stand firm in turbulent times. (Hebrews 13:22)

For our spring series, we are diving into Hebrews and its resounding exhortation to build Jesus-centred durability.

In Hebrews, all roads lead to Christ. He is God’s full and final word summing up all the practises and promises of the Old Testament in himself and perfectly reflecting the true nature of our God and Father into his world.

Hebrews summons us to recentre our vision on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. It reminds us that he is the epicentre of history and that he holds the preeminent place in creation above all human powers, policies and personalities. Hebrews tells us that Christ is the active agent in creation, bearing all things through space and time by his powerful command.

As a side note, you might like to take a look at Neil Mackay’s fascinating article from last week’s Herald which suggests that scientists such as Philip Goff are observing the mark of an intelligent designer active in creation. (Though they are not yet calling it Jesus!)

Front and centre of this word of encouragement is the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. Hebrews highlights the priestly practices of the Old Testament which prefigure Jesus to offer fresh insight into what God has done for us in Christ.

We are profoundly contaminated by a deadly contagion for which we must be quarantined off and isolated from God’s holiness which destroys all that is unclean. Jesus’ sacrifice decontaminates us from the pollution of sin. We are clean and qualified for God’s company. By faith, we receive this gift and can confidently approach God for all the help we need.

This is the solid ground into which we can anchor all our hope. This kingdom we receive in Christ cannot be shaken Hebrews 12:28–29

We all experience internal turbulence, pressures to conform, pernicious recurring temptations, disappointments with others and anxiety about our world. Hebrews offers a dose of Jesus-based encouragement to generate holy perseverance and godly grit.

So as Martin Luther King would say.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, keep moving forward.”