“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away,” says the holy Apostle Paul (Heb. 2:1). Christ’s followers have always been under attacks of every kind and, as you know, it is no different today, nor will it be any different or better tomorrow. Millions and millions of non-Christians, innumerable godless nations live their lives and no one disturbs them. But we, who have been baptized and who smell of incense, we are ever the subject of sectarian activity. They are always at our doorstep, to “save” us and to make us come to our “senses.”
Truly, it is not easy to be faithful and to remain faithful in this day and age. It never has been. Christ said that “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mt. 24:13). This promise of His is our only hope and our only help. We are in communion with Christ our Lord “if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14).
It has been noted a long time ago: Lord Jesus Christ is the only spiritual leader who has never promised His followers any earthly pleasures or treasures. Instead, He calls upon all of us to follow Him on the narrow and thorny path of suffering and renunciation. Christianity is not a “comfortable” faith. You don’t get baptized and go on with your life in the same way as before. Our faith demands witnessing by deeds and the renunciations of worldly pleasures. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Mt. 10:34).
All of us who have heard about Christ and His Divine Word, and who have heard His call, must answer this call dutifully. Had we not been called by Him, we would not have been held accountable, for he who is given more will also be asked for more. “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1) are the Apostle’s words I would like to remind you of. “For if the Word spoken through angels proved steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him (Heb. 2:2-3). The Apostle tells us clearly that we have no excuse. We have all been told and we have all heard what is right. If we will not understand this or accept it, then this is a grave sin which will result in God’s punishment.
Christian suffering and patient bearing of misfortunes is not without hope and meaning. Its meaning is in the hope for the salvation in God’s embrace, in His ineffable and incomprehensible glory. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward,” says the holy Apostle. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35-36).
In our everyday life we see that no one is bothered by those who, because of ignorance, do not belong and therefore stand on the side. But when someone belongs and then falls away, then there is a problem. The problem is all the greater when someone who has belonged to Christ falls away. For it is said, “the just shall live by the faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him (Heb. 10:38).
We are assailed by many temptations and many challenges are constantly before us. Sectarians knock on our doors and drop pamphlets in our mailboxes, they rant at us on television and radio, and it is difficult not to give in and to stay Orthodox. “He who troubles you shall bear his judgment,” says the Apostle (Gal. 5:10). Whoever they may be, they will bear judgment. Those among us who give in and fall into their traps will also bear judgment. “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17) warns holy apostle Peter. All these trials are given to us so that we can show by our deeds how strong is the faith of each one of us. God never allows us to be burdened with more than we can bear: “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13) are the comforting words of the holy Apostle Paul.
We, too, are called to comfort and help one another. We must be especially careful not to be the cause of someone’s downfall or surrender. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13), “lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15).
Therefore, my friends, let us who think we stand take heed lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Let us be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain with the Lord: (1 Cor. 15:58).