“Just give me something to do! Enough with the philosophy, tell me what to do!”
This exhortation is one I have heard a lot in my life as a teacher, especially when teaching busy, pragmatic adults. My teenage students have a much higher tolerance for the theoretical, ironically.
The book of Hebrews ends well for those who are looking for something to do.
Our part, then, is this: to bring, through him, a continual sacrifice of praise to God — that is, mouths that confess his name, and do so fruitfully. Don’t neglect to do good, and to let “fellowship” mean what it says. God really enjoys sacrifices of that kind! (13:15-16)
There is a real threat that religion — any religion — will replace the true relational worship God is truly seeking. For the Hebrews, that meant substituting law observance and religious rituals for a true faith in and imitation of Jesus. For us that substitution might come in a variety of forms:
- Letting our assurance rest in our baptism or church involvement
- Defining our goodness by charitable giving
- Assuming that Bible reading, prayer, and listening to Christian music are the activities God most want from us
- Thinking that the greatest things we do for God happen in a church building
This has been a common chorus as we have meditated on Hebrews.
Notice what the Hebrews author says are the sacrifices that God truly desires: praise, witness, goodness done to others, and fellowship. In other words, love God and love others. The sacrifices God most desires are relational, not ritual. They are the sacrifices of will, time, and energy. It could be that the best sacrifice we could give today would be to forgive a friend who has wronged us or to take the risk involved in mentioning Jesus to someone.