Whether we see ourselves as athletes or not, we Christians are all running a long-distance race. Anyone who has done any running will have experienced the constant temptation to give up, with voices in the head saying, “You can’t do this.” “You might as well give up right now.” “You simply aren’t good enough.” The solution is to tell the voices that they are lying and to keep your mind fixed on the joy of finishing the race.

The great, overarching message of Hebrews is to keep going and not give up. We have Jesus as our High Priest interceding for us, and the example of the saints before us to inspire us. But what exactly does it mean to press on and not give up in the practical terms of daily life?

“Keeping on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”
Hebrews 13:1

The daily reality of not giving up on Jesus is quite simply not giving up on each other. Thinking in terms of the race of faith, we are often tempted to stop running because someone has offended us, or the worship is boring, or we have a disagreement with someone. Or we start to slow down and ease off the pace, distracted by other interests that demand our attention, consume our energy, and take up our time.

The writer spells out what this is going to mean. He doesn’t emphasise regular attendance at services (although that is probably referred to in Hebrews 10:25) but firstly focuses on hospitality as we open our homes to each other. Deep relationships are not built over coffee in the basement, but sitting in each other’s living rooms. That’s where we have the time to share our deeper joys and sorrows, to listen to each other’s hearts, and to empathise through sensitive questions.

The early church met in homes, copying the example of Jesus when he limited the number of his close followers to twelve. Even the Son of God knew he could only handle so many deep relationships! Like that group of twelve, the house churches of Acts were places of transformative discipleship and leadership development. There were no passive spectators as everyone had a role and a responsibility, and everyone grew in their gifts and calling.

It is important we don’t confuse hospitality with entertaining. Many are put off hospitality because they think that inviting friends into their home means the house has to be spotless and they have to cook a cordon bleu meal. I think it is better to think of it as having family around when we know each other so well that we are no longer trying to impress each other. After all, we are brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We are family to each other, for we all carry the same DNA of the Holy Spirit. I have to confess that very occasionally I feel frustrated with QP and the idea of going to another church floats across my mind. Maybe other churches have music more to my taste, or better coffee, or less annoying people! Very quickly I realise I cannot leave because this is my family, and every family has its quirks and imperfections. This is my place, and these are my people. Of course, there are times when we are led to move on, but the message of Hebrews is to ‘keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters’, to persevere and stick with it, because that is the path that leads to growth and blessing.