The Church which is addressed in Hebrews finds itself in a crisis of confidence and faith. Its members are in danger of backsliding and falling away. In similar situations, some church leaders seek to encourage commitment… we have all heard of congregations being encouraged to sign up to some “covenantal” agreement, agreeing to fulfil certain responsibilities. For others it’s a case of tweeking one’s theology, of restating certain doctrines. The writer of Hebrews has a much bolder approach… he calls on his readers to believe the message that they received at the beginning and to be, unhesitatingly, what they were called to be.
From the outset he seeks to place the church’s faith on the firm foundation which is God’s decisive and surpassing Word in Jesus Christ. Bockmuehl, in “A Vision for the Church”, expresses it this way:
Their calling is to be the people of God, the inheritors through Christ of the `better hope’ (Heb 7:19) and the `better country’ (Heb 11:16; 12:18-24) that was promised to believers of old. On the one hand they are to see themselves on a journey to that better country, but at the same time to understand themselves as already citizens of it.
To be resolutely Christian, however, the Church must at the same time also follow Jesus in leaving behind other loyalties and to join him who was put to death outside the gate of Jerusalem. This is part of what it means to belong to the `city to come’ (Heb 13:11-14).
The challenge for us then from Hebrews is to be utterly confident in Christ, and to heed his call to be the people of God…wherever this might take us….