My Dear Friends,
I have never been in the habit of making New Year resolutions. In fact I am not sure if I have ever made one. They have always seemed somewhat artificial. Why wait until a new year dawns before making a resolution? This year, however, I have broken the habit of a lifetime and made a resolution. Before I share it with you, allow me to explain how I came to make it.
Over the past weeks I have been reading through The Letter to the Hebrews. It has, as ever, been a fascinating, sobering and richly encouraging read. The Letter, as you will know, was written to Hebrew Christians who had become influenced by false teaching and were under pressure to give up on Christ and return to Judaism. They had “become dull of hearing” (5:11). They no longer listened to God’s word in Christ as they once had. They had not always been in this sad (and perilous) spiritual state. Slowly but surely, however, they had “become” spiritually deaf to God’s word. What had caused this? Why had they become near insensible to God’s truth? The answer given in Hebrews is seen in three exhortations: “...holy brothers who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus. looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of the faith. Consider him.” (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2; 12:3). Three times the writer encourages his spiritually debilitated readers to “fix their eyes/thoughts on Jesus” (as the NIV translates). In other words, they were in this sad spiritual condition because they had taken their eyes off their Saviour. Their great need was to re-focus their lives in Christ, to consider him, to ponder anew the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Somehow they had allowed the pressures of life, and they had and were experiencing great pressures (cf. 10:32ff; 13:3), to de-centre Jesus in their lives. He was no longer the chief object of their faith and the first call upon their love. In many respects the whole of the Letter is a sustained appeal for these embattled believers to see just how great their Saviour was: superior to all God’s angels; superior to great Moses; superior to Aaron and the priesthood. He is the One who is faithful over God’s house “as a Son” (3:6). He is the One who “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26). He is the One who “always lives to make intercession” for God’s children (7:26). And he is the One who is not ashamed to call us his brothers (2:11).
They were in danger of drifting away from the gospel because they had stopped “considering him.” They had “become dull of hearing” God’s word because they had become less preoccupied with God’s Son.
It was with this in my mind that I resolved, God helping me, to more deliberately “consider him” in this coming year. I know that this should be the daily resolve of every Christian. But I felt in myself the need to make that resolve more deliberate. I want, then, to encourage you to make this your New Year’s resolution. Can you think of a better resolution? Are you satisfied that you “consider him” as purposefully and as seriously as you should? Is it not true for you as it always has been for me, that when your heart grows cold and you begin to wander, it is ALWAYS because you have not been fixing your thoughts and centring your hearts in your blessed Saviour?
Consider him! The Great High Priest who represents you and cares for you and prays for you at the Father’s right hand; the King who lovingly and tenderly rules you; the Prophet who is himself God’s last and best word to a fallen, sinful world. The old chorus may not score high in poetry, but its theology is impeccable: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.”
Yours as ever in Christ