By Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist, Covington
Focal Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4
Before the advent of GPS technology farmers learned to plow a straight furrow by picking out an object at the other end of the field. Whether they plowed with a mule or tractor, they kept their eyes focused to the object. If a rabbit popped up or a bird flew close by, the farmer could not afford to turn to look. A washed out gully was observed accordingly with adjustments made, but the eye would quickly go back to the object.
The writer of Hebrews had something of this in mind when he warns about the danger of drifting from the words of Christ. We all have our daily pressures and problems but as long as we can see Jesus in the same picture, we will be safe.
Chapter 1 refers to the superiority of Jesus’ message to the law. Because He is superior in revelations we ought to listen closely and not drift as the Jews did in the Old Testament. The word “drift” was used of snow slipping off a soldier’s back or of a boat allowed to drift from its mooring.
Notice the writer uses the word “we.” This is not a warning that their salvation would drift away. Rather, it was a warning to “be anchored” not just to the message but to Christ. Anyone is capable of drifting.
The message given by angels in the Old Testament carried with it punishment for those who ignored or drifted from it. If this was true for the Jews then how much more for those readers who have received Christ as Savior.
Spiritual drifting is so deceptive. It can begin with the thought, “I know God says this is wrong, but I don’t see the harm.” This justification continues with “I know I shouldn’t get involved but my needs are unmet.” “I know I should take time to pray, read the Bible but hey, life is busy.”
Unfortunately, the process of drifting does not stop with a single thought. Rather, it becomes an attitude or way of thinking. Years ago as a youth pastor, I led a group of students on a canoe trip. We stopped after a few hours to rest and swim in shallow waters. Yes, I did the unthinkable; I let them take off the life jackets. All was well until I spotted an 8th grader who had drifted into deep water. Terror was in his eyes as he mouthed the words, “Help me!” Quickly another adult and I raced to him. His head was going under. Thankfully the two of us pulled and pushed him to safety. The drifting happened so slowly.
In the spiritual world drifting will continue because the consequences are often delayed. We slowly move away from God when there is no immediate chastisement. It then becomes a way of life.
Satan, the prince of the world, is the prime mover in the drifting process. Each day we awaken in an environment that is hostile to our faith. Satan does not care how long it takes to drift us away from devotion to Christ. He is perfectly willing to work slowly, almost imperceptibly. It does not matter if it takes 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years.
A plane or ship that is off just one degree will drift many miles off course. Can any Christian escape from the tragedy of a drifted life? The writer answers, “No.” This warning applies to all regardless of status, length as a Christian, or past experiences. God’s wrath is against unbelievers, but His displeasure and warnings are against His drifting child. We are to take seriously the focus of our hearts, souls, and minds. To ignore is to ignore at our own peril.