Summary: Deals with the place of honor that we give to Jesus.
Near the center of one of our great Midwestern cities there is a restaurant that has consistently rated with the critics.
It’s really just a hole-in-the-wall but the chicken is "O, so good..."
The restaurant is called: Holy Ghost Fire Baptized Chicken-which of course is a rather peculiar name for a restaurant-even in this predominantly ethnic neighborhood.
"Holy Ghost Fire Baptized Chicken?" one newspaper critic asked the owner after an especially tasty piece of fried white meat. "So where did you come up with that name?"
"Well," explained the owner, "we started out as a small struggling church, The Holy Ghost Fire Baptized Apostolic Assembly. And we decided to have a weekly chicken sale so we could pay our preacher. And everyone loved our chicken so much that we started frying every night. Then we didn’t really have time for the church anymore. So, we closed that and figured our ministry was to bring good eatin’ to the neighborhood."
That’s how Holy Ghost Fire Baptized Chicken started. True story.
Now, was it bad that a church sold chicken? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact I admire their creativity and especially their desire pay their minister.
But what’s troubling is how easily they lost their focus-especially in the midst of their success.
And that’s where the book of Hebrews begins to speak to our common situation. For it’s not just a few inner city chicken-frying Christians that are susceptible to loss of focus.
Over the next several months we’re going to be looking at the book of Hebrews-in much the same way as we looked at the book of Acts. We’ll work through several chapters, take some time off, come back to it. Live with it--listen to it-let it seep in and mold our lives.
You see, Hebrews has a powerful message for Christians today. We have an awful lot in common with those first readers--perhaps more so than any generation in the last 1700 years.
Hebrews, as the name implies, is a very Jewish book. It is steeped in Jewish imagery. We don’t really know who wrote it-although the leading line in KJV Bibles says that it was the Apostle Paul. That, however, was a later addition-perhaps second or third century. So we don’t really know who wrote it or exactly when.
Although, the way that the writer talks about the Jewish Temple suggests to me that it was written prior to the demise of the Temple in AD 70.
And there are some pretty interesting twists and spins on traditional Jewish thought. I suspect that it was written to counter the incursion of a cult or sect that had combined Jewish thinking with some kinds of Greek thinking.
These were people who were really into angels-which is another parallel to our current situation where angels are a big deal for many people.
We live in an era people are designing their own versions of spirituality. I’ve used the analogy of the smorgasbord before. People are walking along with their plates and saying, "I’ll take a little of this and a little of that. I like angels so I’ll make them the entree."
We’ve got this kind of designer spirituality mentality-angels, spirits - whatever.
And, of course, you can find some kind of precedence for all of these in the Bible.
But it’s all a little bit off. It’s kind of like filling your plate with deserts-instead of substantial food. It’s a matter of losing focus and what the meal is really all about.
Well, the book of Hebrews is a reminder to maintain focus on Jesus himself. That’s why the book of Hebrews was written-as a reminder to maintain focus on Jesus himself. The whole book is a long encouragement to hold on to Christ-centeredness--to hang in there and be Christo-centric (as opposed to just plain eccentric).
This is a word for people who got started with Jesus but who somewhere along the way got waylaid or distracted--the pastor who started out because he was passionate about Jesus but found he enjoys running the church so much that management has gradually become his focus. (Of course, you realize I’m talking about some imagined pastor that might be out there somewhere). And this isn’t to say management is bad or unimportant--just secondary.
Or consider the Bible study leader who started out because she loved Jesus but her study has turned into a forum for expressing her particular take on what’s wrong with the schools or the other ills of society.
Then there is the man who decided when he was in high school that he was going to follow Jesus. And he’s never undecided that. But so many things have come at him since-and he’s just trying to keep up with life.
Hebrews was written with you-with us in mind. In Hebrews 1 the writer gives two basic reasons for being Christ-centered-two reasons to refocus our lives on Christ. And the first is that JESUS IS GOD.