Reflection on Hebrews 10
In my first few years of truly knowing and following Christ, I based my actions and routines on other Christian role models around me. My thinking was that since they seemed mature and happy and growing in their faith, then my success hinged on my ability to mirror them as closely as possible. It failed miserably. I grew increasingly frustrated because the things that brought them life weren’t bringing me life. Roughly 4 years into my faith walk, I felt as though I was beating my head against a wall, making “sacrifices” that would hopefully be pleasing to God, pleading for God to intervene so that I could realize some growth, and on the verge of shutting the whole thing down.
As we enter into the Advent Season, some of us might feel the exact same way: burnt out, frustrated, stuck in the same routines, and unable to understand why all of our hard work—our sacrifices in the name of Christ—aren’t leading to a deeper joy or growth. We’ve become like the priests in Hebrews 10: “day after day standing and performing (our) religious duties; again and again (we) offer the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin”…or lead to joy…or help us get out of the rut we’re stuck in. That was me, 10 years ago—and if I’m honest, can still be me today.
The reason that I didn’t shut the whole thing down was because of a prayer prayed over me by someone I barely knew. They prayed that God would break through and reveal a faith that wasn’t based solely on the faith of others—that I would realize His desire for a personal, intimate, individual relationship with me. At that moment I realized that faith isn’t about checking off boxes for the sake of checking them off, just like sacrifice was never intended to become a meaningless routine—even if routines and boxes become comforting in our moments of crisis and doubt.
And there-in lies the beauty of Advent and Christmas: It’s the time of year where we wait and expect God to turn the entire system upside down. It’s when we await the birth of the “priest (who) offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, and sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…And where these (sins) have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”
My prayer this Advent Season is that we might allow ourselves to relax into deep relationship with God, away from the confines of structures and sacrifices and box-checking, which is made possible because of the arrival of the King.