I really appreciate hearing that my wife loves me. She tells me in so many different ways: with words, with her touch, and with things she does for me. Even though I know that she loves me, even though I know that I love her, it is still important to share that message with each other day in and day out. As wonderful as love is in marriage, so much more so is the love that Christ shared with us when he took on our sins and died on the cross.
What happens if we let our minds drift away from the message of Christ? What does that mean in terms of his love for us and our salvation? Consider this passage of Hebrews that I found initially frightening:
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
(Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV)
It is first important to consider this passage in terms of the whole book of Hebrews, and even in terms of the whole of the Bible. In chapter 11 it is very clear that our salvation is not based on our actions, so it would reason that in our “neglect” of the gospel that we would not be able to lose the salvation that God has granted us. Rather than walking away, it may be more about what happens when we forget the immensity of the work that God did on our behalf. Consider if I were to decide to stop telling or showing my wife that I love her. Would my love be any less? Would my commitment to her be missing? Perhaps, but it may be that my neglect is more about making ends meet, taking care of the children, or focus on day-to-day business of the family. After a time my neglect of sharing the message of my love would sour, and may lead to an end of the marriage.
Fortunately for us, when God calls us to salvation and gives us the gift of faith he does not take it back. The word of the Lord is unchangeable, and what he wills will come to pass. His love for us is not dependent on our actions, rather he loves on his own initiative. Even if we forget what he has done for us, he still continues to pursue us. Look what effort he has gone to:
“the message [was] declared by angels”
“It was declared at first by the Lord”
“… it was attested to us by those who heard”
“God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles”
“… and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
The question, then, is how could we have missed all that? I think it is amazingly beautiful to think that throughout the story of the Bible, God’s signs and wonders were testimony to the life and salvation that he would bestow through his son. God did not speak this good news in a dark cave some where. He shouted it from the hilltops, posted billboards, sent out decrees, sent angels to sing about it, and even made a star to point to where he presented himself in the form of a babe.
The author of Hebrews challenges us to not only know the story of our great salvation, but to preach it to one another and to ourselves daily. This means speaking into the lives of those you know with depression and reminding them that God has rescued them. It is sharing the greatness of redemption with people who are bedridden and who have little hope for their recovery. It means reminding friends and neighbors of the immense blessings of a life free from slavery to sin by giving of your time and resources. It means telling the old, old story over and over again, because it is this story that contains our only hope.