Following a crucified savior will cost you. It will cost you everything that you are, everything you have, and everything that you hold dear in this life.
Most of us only pay this cost internally. “Jesus said no man can be my disciple unless he gives up all of his possessions.” What does Jesus mean here? Are we to go out, literally, and sell everything we have, and live. indigent lives, naked, on the street with the homeless. No, of course not! What Jesus is saying is this: When you receive me as Savior and Lord, you must relinquish in your heart your right to be your very own: to spend your own money, to own your own possessions, to waste your own time, to be your own person. You must give yourself to me completely. And if you can look at a nickel in your pocket, or five minutes on your schedule and says, “MINE!” Then you have some thinking to do. Such an attitude is fundamentally incompatible with Christian discipleship.
There is, however, another cost, an outward cost. A cost only some Christians have to pay, and generally only some of the time. We pay this cost when the world reaches into our lives with a rapacious, ruthless, and merciless rage and rips out our nearest and dearest for Christ's sake.
The first readers of the book of Hebrews were beginning to face this cost, and many of us will as well in the years to come. For them, the pressure is ramping up. Although, nobody has died yet, I imagine they heard an ominous note in these words: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin.” Not yet!
People were beginning to get scared. They were beginning to look round at their families gathered around the breakfast table, at their jobs, at their place in society, at their reputation in the market place, at their hopes of living to ripe old age and watching the grandchildren grow up around their feet, and they are beginning to wonder, “Is Christ really worth the loss of all this?"
The writer of Hebrews know this, and in no uncertain terms, he writes to warn them of what's at stake: If you turn away from Christ, you may gain the world now, but you'll lose heaven in the end.
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1–4, NASB95)
Forsaking Christ is not a choice you can afford to make. Fighting against Temptation is not a fight you can afford to lose. There will be hell to pay if you do?
To pull these people back from the brink, the writer engages in 13 chapters of some of the most theologically detailed, intellectually rigorous argument found anywhere in all of Scripture. There is a lesson there, I think, and it is this: Intellectual flimsiness will not equip you to stand for Christ and stare down a blood thirsty Jihadist who wants to saw off your head with a blunt Bowie knife-- an empty-headed, wishy-washy sentimental attachment to Jesus will not enable you to remain steadfast before an LGBTQQ equal opportunities HR who wants to fire you from your job because you won’t wear a solidarity pin expressing your wholehearted support for a gay coworker's decision to "come out." To face down such opposition, what you and I need is theological fortitude. We need to open our Bible's, bend our knees, and fill our minds with TRUTH-- Deep truth, eternal Truth, conscience-gripping Truth.
So let me encourage you to read. Let me exhort you to expose your soul to the Bible, to the great Christian books, and the great biographies of our faith. Let me encourage you to lean in to the preached word of God and feed your soul. Winter is coming, I fear. And the wise squirrels amongst us will want to have a harvest of theological "nuts" stored away to keep them through the long nights and the cold days ahead. Brothers and sisters: we will not stand strong with empty heads.