Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Hebrews 12:12-14, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” What a wonderful image. Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees. This book was written to Christians, probably with a Jewish heritage, and maybe in Italy. Is that vague enough? The point to remember about them…they were discouraged. This is a letter of encouragement to Christians who had been persecuted, hassled and they want Christ to come back. Sometimes we all have days like that, minus the violence that these Christians faced. We have our faith picked apart by others or even those nearest to us, and then we just want to go home (heavenly, not the dirty earthly one). I say ‘our faith picked apart’ because everything that happens to us should touch our faith. We are products of our faith: what we believe. The choices that we make, what we say and how we respond is a picture of our faith. We are ONE identity, and although this world tells us that we can be many things at one time: a secular scholar, a biblical teacher, a yoga fanatic and lover of the arts, we are at all times ONE identity. We belong to Christ, and there can be many values offered to us by the world, but we are required to choose between them. Our responses and actions, our words and attitudes, are the evidence of our spiritual life, and therefore, the practice of our faith. Do you do something that you do not like? Is it complimentary to the body of Christ? Ok, then…lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees. Potentially offensive, but encouraging, side note: being born on the front church step or your parent being the lead deacon does not mean anything. 1) You cannot be grandfathered into faith. 2) You can also be kind and/or moral, and not have a relationship with Christ. Saying, “yes”, to Jesus gives you the right tools. It does not make a relationship. It is like sitting in front of a light socket with a bulb and never screwing it in. Let’s lift our drooping hands (with the word?) and strengthen our weak knees (by kneeling in prayer?). The “you” mentioned in these verses, is actually a collective “you”. They are being told to make straight paths for their feet. In any group, there are weaker and there are stronger. So, just as you are thinking, “thank goodness I am not responsible for everyone’s hands and feet”…stop yourself. We are told to make our collective path straight. There are many things that I have been exposed to in my Christian adult life. Many things that I have let in, and had to shove back out because I thought that I was strong enough to handle them, but I was not. I cannot dabble in the world. I get hurt. Therefore, I do not want to bring anything into the body that will cause anyone to stumble. I want to make straight paths for my brothers and sisters. To be perfectly candid, my droopy hands and weak knees are my mouth. I talk too much to cover up the fact that I am an introvert. Strange, isn’t it? When I am in situations where I am chit-chatting with other women…I know that I will be confessing later because I really don’t have much to say but I feel like I should be social. So, to compensate, I say EVERYTHING that comes to my head…unfiltered. I know. What a disaster! I love being in circles where I know that the conversation will never approach the realm of gossip or carelessness. Then I can be sure that I am on a straight path for my feet. I rely on others to help me stay on that path. Why? So that the weak (me and my mouth) will not be put out of joint, but I will be healed. So, you go and lift your drooping hands, today, and strengthen your weak knees. Collectively, we will make paths straight for the healing of each other. With everyone, we will pursue peace and holiness. Let me help before you skim over this…thinking of ‘holiness’ as sanctification makes this verse a little more understandable. We are pursuing peace in order to grow in Christ. (Sanctification = growing, in grace, as the result of commitment to Christ.) This is the way that we run the race, strong and straight while chasing after peace and holiness. We do not wait for it to come to us. This is not the time to be lazy but to seek peace…and that can be hard; too hard when you have droopy hands and weak knees. It is worth it, though. I want to see the face of the Lord. Don’t you? Lord, let us be women of strength and conviction. When we are weak, lift our hands and strengthen our knees for the purpose of healing. Show us where to pursue peace and holiness.