Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled…
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12: 15-15, 28-29)
Typically, when I read scripture and think about faith, my mind is popping in many different – yet complimentary – directions. So I thought it might be interesting to share how I came to select the two passages for today’s post.
Yesterday evening I met with the ever-growing small group of men who gather with me for Bible-study. We’re finishing up a look at Colossians and we read the interesting passage (3:18-4:1) that throws out lines such as, “wives submit to your husbands;” “husbands love your wives;” “children obey your parents;” “fathers don’t aggravate your children;” “slaves obey your masters;” “masters be fair to your slaves,” and “work willingly at whatever you do as though you were working for the Lord….”
Some people point to this passage as evidence that in God’s hierarchy women should serve men. Others say that if we say slavery is unacceptable today, then so is gender-exclusive authority.
WISDOM: One of the men in my group made a great observation when he pointed out that Paul was dealing with people who lived in a particular reality. Women were property; people owned slaves; that’s just the way it was. The point Paul was making in Colossians was this: now that we know Jesus, now that “the message about Christ, in all its richness, fills our lives,” (3:16) how are we going to act? How are we going to live in this reality having “been raised to new life with Christ?” (3:1)
So I was thinking about this, and about how literalism, fundamentalism, and their opposite extremes so often miss the real principles of faith that sometimes rest just behind, or all around, the words that sit on the page, and my mind was drawn to this phrase from Rebekah’s sermon June 1 (you can listen to it here – Power and Glory – it’s a powerful message): “We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.”
So I looked it up – Hebrews 12, and I read the entire chapter. That’s when verses 14-15 grabbed at my heart:
- Pursue peace;
- don’t cut anyone off from access to the grace of God;
- see that no roots of bitterness spring up and cause trouble….
And I thought about nit-picking about details, condemning those who interpret differently, rejecting people on the margins, and about how that causes bitterness… and it is “the root of bitterness” – Hebrews points out – that results in “many becoming defiled.”
So what is the bottom line here? It’s simple: “We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken!”
We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. God’s kingdom transcends all the divisions, the nit-picking, the disagreements, the litmus-tests, the temporary rules, the peculiarities of culture, the misunderstandings, the prejudices, the peremptory judgments, the humanity, the denominational variations, the interpretations, the doctrines, the translations… The confusing blog-posts.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.