RELIGION COLUMN: Drifting from the Gospel

Published 9:55 am Monday, May 12, 2014

By Jake McCall

If you’ve ever canoed, rafted or kayaked, you know that steering the boat is a full-time job. You don’t just begin steering to go around bends or to avoid visible obstacles in the river; you constantly steer to keep yourself straight and in the current, and also from things that are dangerous or that will throw you off course.

There have been many times when I was in conversation or got distracted with the scenery, and before I knew it, I was running our raft or canoe into some overhanging limbs along the bank or even worse, into some dangerous rocks or rapids that I didn’t want to be in. Here’s what I realized: It didn’t take any effort to get into a mess. As a matter of fact, all it took to flip a raft or a canoe was to become lazy or become unaware of the surroundings. I didn’t have to work at it to get in a bind, or to even get flipped over. I just simply had to stop paying attention and start drifting.

Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Just as I didn’t have to actively try and steer my raft or canoe into a dangerous situation to get into one, the author of Hebrews is telling us something very similar. He is telling us that we have to fix our hearts on the message of Hebrews chapter 1, which tells us that the Gospel is completely found in God the Son. He’s not warning us of the danger of one day waking up and making the decision to reject Christ. He is explaining that the danger is in waking up and forgetting the fullness of the Gospel, of not being gripped by the travesty and the beauty of the Gospel. God is not surprised in the world’s rejection of the truth and the world’s hatred of the Son. In fact, in God’s wisdom, he uses that for his glory and purposes. Therefore, as difficult as it may be to watch and hear about the hatred of the Lord, that should not be our primary concern or focus. Our primary concern should be our own lack of attention to the Gospel, our own complacency and neglect of unwavering thankfulness that we have escaped the judgment of a holy God because of his infinite mercy, and that Jesus is the center of the story.

When our Gospel is not about the life of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and the ongoing work through the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, then we have the wrong Gospel. When we take one of those elements away, we diminish the Gospel; when we add something to it, we also diminish the Gospel. And when this true Gospel is not our source for faith and life, we subject ourselves to this dangerous drift. Therefore be reminded and be fueled by this: Jesus Christ, the faithful Son, came to pay our price and bring us, the rebellious ones, to the Father. When there is no escape, he rescues us. The great danger for God’s people is probably not in rejecting that; the great danger for God’s people is in forgetting that.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.