Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Hebrews 10:19-27
So if yesterday’s verse forced me to admit what I don’t believe but maybe I should, then today’s verse forces me to admit what I don’t do but I definitely should. Man, God’s Little Instruction Book is eating my lunch.
As we continue our God’s Little Deconstruction Book series, our verse for the day is Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” And I have gotten bad at that, at least from a church perspective. I have been meeting regularly with my Triad bros over the past few months, and I also meet regularly with Ash Green, President and Overlord of Plan X Media, to work on Plan X projects, such as the Christian Rebellion, our podcast about Christianity and culture. Did you know that Chocolate Book is a Plan X Media production? Fun fact!
But Christian friendships and blatant Plan X plugs aside, I’m almost completely uninvolved in my local church. I don’t attend any Hope Church Bible studies, I’m not really a member of any Hope community groups, and I barely get involved in any unique events there. Just this past Sunday, I arrived at the 9:00 service just as the sermon was starting, and as soon as the sermon was over and we’d sung the closing song, I walked back to my car, drove home, and attempted to take a nap. This verse is straight-up convicting me.
And there’s another way in which God’s Little Instruction Book is eating my lunch today. Its adage for the day is a pun: “Remember the banana–when it left the bunch, it got skinned.” I was about to give it a mild chewing-out for encouraging fellowship driven by fear, or at least a desire to avoid the negative consequence of “getting skinned.” After all, the text says we should continue gathering together because “we have confidence to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (19) and “a great high priest over the house of God” (21). We shouldn’t be motivated by fear of what will happen if we don’t connect with our spiritual family! We should meet together because of this great new life of privilege that Jesus has inaugurated us into and which we share with others!
Or so I was going to argue. But look at the verses immediately following Hebrews 10:25:
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (26-27)
As if anticipating my objection, there it is. The word “terrifying?” In the Greek, that’s φοβερός, phoberos: same root as our word “phobia.” We should be motivated by joy and eagerness to share our life in Jesus Christ, yes. But we should absolutely also be motivated by fear.
Well, perhaps fear is the wrong word. I’ve heard it argued–and even argued it myself–that “respect” is a better way of understanding the concept that the King James Bible translated as “the fear of the Lord.” But this is a tension that I keep coming back to, and even if we talk about “a certain awe-inspiring expectation of judgment” or words along those lines, we still have to contend with the reality of God’s wrath. Not just here, but elsewhere, scripture is clear: we are called to be theophobic.
And I would submit that part of that is coming to the scriptures with humility and seeking to learn from God what exactly “theophobia” means.