“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22, ESV)
In these days of quarantine I have seen a lot of webspace devoted to one side or the other—either to rigid adherence to calls for isolation or “back to the wind” come what may. I have always been somewhere in the middle. But it got me thinking about another kind of continuum.
In the world of Christianity there are two main extremes of thought. One says that we are under grace, not law, and we need not concern ourselves with a fight against sin. The other holds that we must do anything and everything in our power to remove sin from our thoughts and practices. And as with the COVID 19 crisis, both extremes have considerable adherents, with the majority of us finding our comfort somewhere in the middle.
There are a number of scriptures that stir up great conflict within me. And if I’m being honest, I believe that God always intended that to be the case—not just for me, but for everyone. With even a cursory reading of Scripture, the Holy Spirit speaks to us about our behavior relative to whatever part we are reading. Hebrews 9:22, our introductory text, is one such verse for me. It instantly reminds me of another to produce conflict in my heart: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4, ESV).
We could debate for years, about the meaning of Hebrews 12:4. Is the author being literal of figurative? Are Hebrews 9:22 and Hebrews 12:4 to be interpreted in light of one another? Should they be linked to Matthew 5:29-30, where Jesus says “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off”?
I don’t pretend to have the answer; and I am definitely not pointing fingers. I’m simply asking questions.
How far should we take our quarantine directives? How far are we expected to take our faith walk?
Obviously, we need to interpret scripture in light of context, continuity and condition (I’ll post about this next week!). But we must also take into consideration what we feel God is trying to tell us when scripture makes us uncomfortable.
I’d love to hear how you deal with scripture when it makes you uncomfortable. How do your endeavor to use that discomfort? How far are you willing to go when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Let’s get a conversation going in the comments. Check back to see how others respond!
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels