Summary: This sermon deals with believers who slip back into darkness while the light is still on.
Hebrews 2:1-3 “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip (drift away).
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward,
How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation…”
INTRODUCTION: There is question about who is the author of the book of Hebrews. Some feel that it was Paul but others do not agree. At any rate, the book of Hebrews was written to believers rather than to unbelievers. Many Jewish believers having stepped out of Judaism into Christianity now want to reverse their course in order to avoid persecution. It was written to encourage these Christians to continue in the faith. One problem for them was they were faced with persecution. When the pinch was on them, they were having difficulty handling it. It was not that they hadn’t faced hardship before because they had. The writer of Hebrews addressed their problems and was giving them encouragement as well as five warnings throughout the book. These same things can encourage us today as well as warn us to stay on course or to get back on course if we are not living where we should be.
1. NEGLECT: The first warning to these people was concerning neglect. Neglect is usually not a DELIBERATE thing. People are sometimes even unaware that it is happening. You might think of many things that can be considered neglect. We could neglect friends until the friendship is ruined or neglecting family until the damage is irreversible. In order to have a good friendship or family relationship it must have an investment of time and be a two way street. We have all had friends that we called on the phone and they never call us back. It is not a two way street and finally we give up and the friendship dies out.
You could neglect repairs on your home until so much damage is done that it would take thousands of dollars to repair the damage.
Another area of neglect is in your health. You have heard people say, “If I would have known that I would live so long, I would have taken better care of my health.” People often do not take care of their health when they are younger and later on they have all kinds of problems and can never recover. We never hear people say, “I want to ruin my health and end up with lung cancer or a stroke.” People take the attitude, “It won’t happen to me,” and continue to drift along.
STORY: There was a man on TV the other night who weighed over 700 lbs. He was only 26 years old. He said he didn’t have any discipline and the pounds piled on. He lived alone in his grandfather’s garage. To go from room to room he couldn’t walk through the door unless he went through it sideways. He was developing several health problems and decided that he would go on a weight loss program which he did. He was struggling with the exercise program the personal trainer had set up for him. Would he give up and quit? I don’t know, but he managed to lose a few pounds. I don’t know if he finished.
Sometimes neglect is not that obvious. Two men were fishing above a low dam on a river near their hometown. As they were concentrating on catching fish, they were unaware that they had drifted until they were not far from the water flowing over the dam. When they realized their situation, the current near the dam had become too powerful for them to keep their boat from going over. Below the dam the water was dashing with strong force over boulders and through crevices in the rocks. Caught by the swirling waters under the rocks they never came to the surface. After days of relentless searching, the divers finally found one body, and then two or three days later, the other. The danger of drifting is not limited to the physical realm. Our scripture today gives the first of five warnings. Our spiritual life can drift toward destruction as well. Drifting requires no effort of us. It is a natural thing to move toward what is convenient and comfortable. Paying attention is hard work and it involves focusing. It involves focusing on not only hearing but obeying. It is possible to drift along for years without thinking about the seriousness of our neglect. Drifting or slipping back into darkness is usually unperceived by the person but clearly seen by others.
Neglecting church week after week until you don’t want to go is another subtle way to drift away from God. All the time you could say, “I will get started as soon as the garden is planted, or when the kids are older or when things slow down on the job.” The WHEN never comes.