Insult By Way of Explanation

If you are reading this, you probably are wondering at the title. Spoiler alert: I’m not going to insult you. Perhaps I should say that I’m not going to insult you intentionally. If you come this blog regularly, you may have found things I’ve said offensive at some point. If so, sorry about that, but only to the extent the offense was distracting from the message. To the extent the offense made the point more clearly, I have no regret.

More than likely, what frequent visitors find is confusing, or worse, boring. For those things, I truly am sorry. I regret being confusing and boring because it obscures the message I believe my Master gives me. Try as I might, I still wind up as either or both. But the writer of Hebrews uses insult to pull his readers into rapt attention:

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Hebrews 5:11-12 NASB

“Yeah, I’d like to go deeper, but you’re stupid. Are you paying attention now?” That’s what this tactic seems to be for the writer. He goes on in the beginning of chapter 6 to describe some basics he’d like to get past so he can delve into more important things. Why? Why insult his readers/hearers prior to driving to a deeper point?

I get that it’s a literary tactic, but why, with all the available tactics, did he choose that one? Why be insulting? Because they were in grave danger, and I mean “grave” pretty literally, and spiritually. The writer wants his hearers/readers to wake up to this next point, and having insulted them, he is sure to have their attention.

It’s time to leave the connective elements that Jesus’ teachings have with Judaism, and move on to the more important elements. Why? Because if they don’t, they will eventually reach a “point-of-no-return” (see 6:4-8, and my previous entry “No ‘Third’ Repentance“).

As we, Twenty-First Century readers, read this First-Century writing, we need to come to the same abrupt halt. Our attention needs to be arrested. There are points of correspondence between our culture and Christianity. It’s time to get past them into deeper, more meaningful stuff. Because, if we don’t, there will be a point-of-no-return for us as well.

The insult indicates, or explains, the dire importance of “what comes next”. The next thing is pushing past basics elements that teachings of Jesus have with Judaism:

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

Hebrews 6:1-2 NASB (emphasis mine)

Those disciples of Jesus believed in and taught new converts, but so did Jews. Jews taught their new converts the same basic elements, they simply had different meaning. A Jewish disciple of Jesus could hold to those basics and not run afoul of their traditional Jewish brothers. But those beliefs were not an end, they were supposed to be a foundation for more.

One of the more disastrous problems with way too many churches today is the failure to “make disciples” of those they convert to faith in Jesus. Few failures can more assuredly cause “shallow soil” and “thorny soil” than the failure to disciple. On the flip side are those churches making disciples of their theology rather than of Jesus. That’s almost worse; except that sometimes, within the bad theology, there are kernels that can lead diligent seekers of truth to the feet of Jesus.

Read Hebrews 5:11 through 6:8 again. Wake up, smell the coffee of the call of Jesus. He calls us to seek HIM, not words about Him. He calls us to seek His face, not opinions about Him. We are to be baptized, immersed in His Spirit, not this world’s view of Him, or even this world’s view of this world.

Jesus is the Person who stands as the point of the Scripture He inspired. What is necessary to know to know Him is found in there. Once what is necessary to know Him is found, we actually come to know Him through our obedience to Him. It’s not what we find in Scripture that defines our relationship with our Creator, it’s what we do with what we find in Scripture. It’s obedience to our Creator that defines our relationship with Him.

It’s not “work” that saves us, but work demonstrates we’re saved. It’s not a confession of word as much as a life lived in deeds that declares our allegiance. Do we live as if this world is passing, and we’re looking for that city “who architect and builder is God”? (Hebrews 11:10) Or are we distracted, seeking rather to conform to this world instead of the one to come? The writer of Hebrews leads his readers to an enduring faith, enduring to the Eternal City of God. And yes, he insults people along the way. Because it’s important.

Let’s be insulted, offended, challenged, and driven to reach that city. Let nothing stop us.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation

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