Warning Against Unbelief
Open Your Bible
Hebrews 3:7-19, John 3:16-21, Romans 11:1-6
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 3:7-19, John 3:16-21, Romans 11:1-6
Hands down, my favorite day of the year during elementary school was field day. On field day, each class wore matching t-shirts and competed in outdoor events like the 100-yard dash, Red Rover, and the ultimate team challenge: tug-of-war.
I always felt a rush of nerves as my class stepped up to the rope to compete against the other classes in our grade. I was tall and lanky, not the strongest kid, but I knew none of that mattered in tug-of-war, because it took everyone’s strength to win, not just mine. And when I got tired, I could loosen my grip knowing my classmates would pick up the slack.
Our passage today points to this type of teamwork—not in the context of field day, of course, but in the context of faith and the community effort it so often requires.
We can assume some individuals from the community addressed in Hebrews had been loosening their grip on their faith, swaying toward unbelief, the type of unbelief that leads to rebellion against God. The writer warns, “Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
As God’s people, we have a long history of this type of unbelief. From the Israelites wandering in the desert, to the early church addressed here in Hebrews, to Christians today—our tendency is to believe in ourselves and our own way over God and His. Fortunately, the writer of Hebrews provides a strategy to guard ourselves against unbelief:
“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today,
so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception” (v.13).
In other words, if you want to stay away from unbelief, stay together.
The more I walk this road of faith, the more I realize how corporate the practice of faith must be if we are going to maintain it. The very nature of our faith is communal. We serve a triune God who from the beginning has been committed to communing with us. So much so, that He came to be with us in human form through the person of Jesus Christ, who then died so that we might commune with God for eternity.
We are not meant to believe alone. I think this is why the writer of Hebrews so earnestly warns against unbelief, and then in the same breath reminds us to encourage one another. When I am on the brink of unbelief, it is always community that pulls me back to the truth of the gospel. If I’d had to face the other team alone, I surely would have abandoned the rope long ago. But knowing I have others there who have strength when I don’t has provided the encouragement I’ve needed to stay in the game.
This is why I find this passage so hopeful. Just as much as it is a warning against unbelief, it is also a reminder that we don’t have to go up against unbelief alone. Because our Messiah is our companion, we have companionship with each other.
Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer, Texas native, and the author of the memoir English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find Andrea laughing with friends at a coffee shop or creating yet another nearly edible baking creation in her kitchen. One of these days she’ll get the recipe right.