Summary: Exposition of Hebrews 10 regarding how do we become like those people?
Text: Heb 10:32-39, Title: Absolutely Ridiculous, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/28/11, PM
A. Opening illustration: Radical Video, Gary Tryon speaking about Bill McDonald giving him $100
B. Background to passage: after scaring them to death, hopefully causing them to examine their own conversion, and make sure that it is legit, the author shares his hope that their conversion is real by looking back on their experience. And he doesn’t say that they prayed a prayer or walked the aisle or joined the church, he says that they suffered well for Christ! By the way, how one endures suffering spiritually is very much an indicator of the genuineness of their conversion. By suffering well, I mean that they suffered intensely, because of love, and with great joy. In a world that values wealth, security, power, and comfort, these people with great joy accepted the destruction of their personal worldly possessions. And these were very young Christians, and had not been in the faith for long.
C. Main thought: how do we become like those people?
A. Allow Love to Win (v. 33)
1. He says here that they became “companions” with those who were suffering. The word means to partner with and join themselves to. This would have and did cost them much. We see the results, but these are probably results that they would have been able to anticipate. It says that they had “compassion” or sympathized with those in prison. So knowing the consequences that could come, they took food and provisions to their brothers in prison. How? Why? They allowed agape love to drive them to sacrifice themselves and their stuff, and to triumph over fear and want. They truly put the needs of their brothers and sisters before their own.
3. Illustration: Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in Eilenburg, Germany, wrote the hymn during the Thirty Year War which raged in Germany during the 1600s. Eilenburg was a walled city and was a place of refuge for thousands of refugees fleeing the war. As it filled with helpless victims, the city became overcrowded and was under-supplied with food, sanitation, and medical care. Instead of a place of refuge, it soon became a city of death. Plagues raged through the city claiming hundreds of victims. In the midst of misery and pain, Reverend Rinkart wrote sixty hymns of faith and hope. His hymns helped turn the people’s eyes from their despair to the power and love of God. Rinkart encouraged them to look beyond their circumstances to the eternal blessings of God. With this confidence, Rinkart was able to minister to thousands. In the terrible plague of 1637, other pastors fled or died, and Rinkart was left alone to bury close to 4500 men, women, and children. Some days he would conduct 45 funerals. As the war drew to a close, Eilenburg was overrun by several armies. At one point, the Swedish army occupied the city, and the general in charge demanded that the people pay a large tribute. On behalf of the people, Rev. Rinkart spoke to the general and begged for mercy. The general was unyielding. Facing possible death, Rinkart called his companions to kneel and pray. “Come my children, we can find no mercy with (humans); let us take refuge with God.” He led the prayer and the singing of a hymn. Stunned, the general watched. When Rinkart rose, the general ordered the levy reduced, and he spared the city. It was with this faith that Rinkart wrote, “Now Thank We All Our God.”
4. If we are to be a generation of people that could/would do as these did, we must let self-sacrificing, unconditional, highly-valuing love determine our actions, rather than fear, social pressure, apathy, of self-absorption. And this is not usually the case. I have sat in homes this week of church members who felt completely abandoned by the members of this church during their darkest hours (myself included), because we didn’t let love determine our actions. Christian love looks at others before it looks at self. We do this often with our families, children, grandchildren, but not so much with others. Or we do it to certain ones that are close to us, and neglect other church family, because we have never formed a relationship with them. We will never be Heb 10:33-34 Christians without allowing love to reign in us.
B. Loosen Grip on Present World (v. 33-34)
1. These people were not overly attached to their things. They were willing to part with them for a greater cause. Their perspective on things of this world was that everything here is temporary.
3. Illustration: the man in the children’s book who sold his favorite hat to buy the field, joke about the woman who figured she should have put the money in the basement, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. Ariely’s study therefore presents us with a warning. Our hearts are predisposed to instantly grip themselves around our possessions. In a very real way, we will come to value our possessions much more highly than we did before we had them. There’s almost no going back. So be discerning about what you own, and also be discerning about how your relationship to your possessions can ultimately impact your relationship with God. What seems like a gift may one day serve as a wedge between you and the Giver.