I grew up and lived the majority of my adult life in the cold war era. We had an enemy. The enemy was well defined. Its name was communism. I feared communism. I would strive to live a life free of communism. The thought of including anything in my life that reflected communism was repugnant.
I don’t say this to start a debate about democracy verses communism. That’s not the point. Please don’t go down a political trail. Just understand, in my culture, in my upbringing, and in my heart communism was feared…deeply.
I say this to introduce you to how I see the author of Hebrews introducing the idea that we as Christians have one thing to fear…unbelief. Unbelief is the root cause of everyone who falls away from God. Unbelief is the root cause of everyone who fails to enter God’s rest. It should be feared. (Hebrews 4:1)
Therefore, in this paradox we call the Christian life, we live without fear in this world by fearing unbelief. We rest in God by striving to live in God’s design for the Christian. (Hebrews 4:11) We fight to win a race we know we can’t lose.
There is only one way to live a fearless life resting in God and that is striving to destroy unbelief. To strive means to devote serious effort or energy. The reason we devote serious effort toward destroying unbelief is clear. Whoever fails to strive, as did OT Israel, will fall on the way, fail to enter God’s rest, and be yet another example of disobedience.
Read Philippians 2:12-18
Paul is instructing the church in Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (Verse 12) How does this idea of Paul’s line up with the idea of striving to enter God’s rest? (Hebrews 4:11)
Paul presents an example of working out your salvation as (verse 16) holding fast to the Word of life. How does this idea of Paul’s line up with the idea of exhort one another as long as it is called today? (Hebrews 3:13)
Paul urged the Philippians to stand true, to have the mind of Christ, and to work out their salvation in obedience. Above all, they were called to be like Christ. And in verse 17 and 18 what was the end result of this striving? Hint: Rejoicing!…Joy in Responsibility!