Thursday, August 19, 2010

encouragement and challenge

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today our author moves towards the end of his letter with various pieces of encouragement for the flock. He encourages values like hospitality, love, fidelity, and contentment, grounding most of these virtues in scripture. The most challenging piece here for me is remembering those in prison. Paul, this author and Jesus all say that Christians should visit people who are in prison, but apart from ambulance calls I never go inside a prison. Here, the author encourages his readers to remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. That wasn't a stretch for Christians in those times since many people were imprisoned for their faith. Paul is said to have written several of his letters from prison, as have important Christian leaders down to the present including Dietrich Bonhoeffer during Nazi rule and Martin Luther King Jr. in our own country. Prison and persecution are still a reality for many Christians in other parts of the world, but we are generally shielded from such things here. This passage challenges us never to forget those who suffer for their faith or for other reasons.

Our passage ends with the reminder that Jesus is always the same, in other words, we can count on him. It fits right in with the knowledge that God will never leave us and that "The Lord is our keeper. What can anyone do to us?" We are never alone in our calling; God is with us and God calls us forward today.


Hebrews 13:1-8
Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. 4Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 6So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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