“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” – Hebrews 2:1
Occasionally, well-meaning, good-intentioned teachers or leaders end up demolishing the belief and faith of others through their words. When misunderstood or misapplied, theology can produce division, leaving swaths of wounded people, believers and unbelievers alike, as unintended collateral damage.
Unfortunately, it isn’t rare.
Just recently, I was regaled with a story of some destructive teaching which led many astray. It echoed some of my own experiences. I have seen legalistic devotion to the church twisted into a weapon. I have witnessed irresponsible eschatology drive people away from the church altogether. I wish I could say this was a singular outlier, but unfortunately, it is a common occurrence. Anyone who has spent any decent amount of time in church typically can recount a story (or two…or fifty…) of a teaching that is at minimum suspect and at most heresy.
Most of the time, these questionable ideas come from poor interpretation. There are men who have used passages like 1 Timothy 2 to be misogynistic. There are name-it-and-claim-it prosperity teachers using John 10:10 to tell people that all they need to do is ask Jesus for more because He came to give people life abundant. The tendency is to lay an idea on the text, to pick a verse that seems to fit in with what you want to believe to be true, and run with it as the absolute reality.
But that’s not how God’s word works.
I once had the great pleasure of attending a church where the focus was simply teaching the “main and plain” of the Bible. Where the text was black and white, the interpretation and subsequent application was black and white. Where the text had uncertainty the interpretation and applications worked through some of the nuance, never dealing in absolutes. One of the great struggles of theology is keeping the main and plain the main and plain.
The author of Hebrews wrote in an effort to keep people focused on Jesus, addressing a potential relapse into a “Law-based” faith. The entire focus of the letter can be summed up in these three words, “Jesus is better.” Jesus is better than angels, a better priest, a better sacrifice; Jesus is just flat out the best thing. This was the message, this was the truth the author of Hebrews wrote to which they needed to “pay much closer attention”.
In the church, the more we focus on things other than Jesus, the more we are prone to drift. There are certainly deep theological truths which we need to understand, particularly about the nature of God and man, but the focus should always be Jesus. He is the cornerstone of our faith. He is the author and perfecter of it. He is the source of it. He is the object of it.
Hold tightly to Jesus, pay close attention to Him.
Doing so will demonstrate the goodness of our loving God to a fallen world.
Doing so will keep us as teachers and leaders from drifting into heresy.
Doing so will glorify God as we point people to the work He did through Christ at the cross.