Good bad examples

My favorite demotivational poster is the one with the half-sunk boat. Its caption reads: Mistakes. It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

That’s altogether funny and actually quite motivational to me. It reminds me that all my failings could mean something to the larger purpose of humanity. God can redeem mistakes. Amen?

There are many times the Bible calls on the people of God to be those holy mistakes. As you know, they didn’t always have it together. Their pursuits were not always aligned with God’s. They weren’t quite as faithful as we are. But their unfaithfulness can serve a function for us.

The writer of Hebrews includes many Old Testament references. In chapter three, a reading from Psalm 95 is in order. According to the writer, the Holy Spirit is speaking through the psalmist and says, “do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness.” That is, don’t be like the ones who failed the test in the wilderness. They walked with God and still didn’t know God’s way.

Don’t follow their example. Remember it, but don’t follow it!

Instead, the chapter opens up with a reminder about the faithfulness of Jesus. Look at his life to find encouragement for your own. We are to recall the faithfulness of Moses as well.

How do you make those examples of faith, and unfaithfulness, mean anything to you? By taking care. The writer says, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Now, there are two ways I read that text. Of course, there’s something personal for me to keep in mind. I need to take care of my faith. I take care of myself in ways that keep me faithful. That makes sense, of course. But read the text again. Take care that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart.

That sounds like a communal call to action. That may have individual components, sure. But I am asked to make sure none of us falls away. You are called to make sure none of us turn from God. That sounds like a lot. Indeed, many of us might think that’s an impossible task. How can I be responsible for other people?

Well, the call is to take care not take responsibility. Just how do we do that? As long as it’s called today “exhort one another.” That’s part of Hebrews’ challenge to us. Exhort one another every day.

How do you do that? That seems to be the fun part. We can find and create all kinds of ways to encourage each other. As we do, God helps us become better examples of what to do as we follow Jesus.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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