Don’t Drift: The Guardian of Our Souls (A Study in Hebrews)

Think about the word “guard.” As a verb, it means to protect from something. As a noun, it is the person or thing doing the guarding. A guardrail keeps a vehicle from plummeting off a mountain. A guard keeps a prisoner from escaping to do further harm to society. As a guard, God’s Word can keep us on the straight and narrow path. As an adjective, it can describe a noun that is doing the guarding. Such as a guard dog.

In Chapter One of Hebrews, the writer has described Christ as being greater than a number of people. Now he presents him as the Guardian of our souls. He guards our salvation, but there are responsibilities we have as well.

Don’t Drift

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it (Hebrews 2:1 NLT).

On one of the Andy Griffith episodes, a drifter comes to Mayberry. Not only did he drift, but he led Andy’s son Opie to drift from some very important things Andy and Aunt Bea had taught him.

During the Great Depression, many people drifted across the United States. Many hopped boxcars and rode for free. John Steinbeck details some of these scenes in his great literature works.

I was a drifter—but not the kind that hopped an empty train car. Or not even the kind who moved from place to place to escape myself, the law, or bad relationships. I was a spiritual drifter. When my teenage years approached, I drifted from the truth my parents had taught me. I wanted to do what I wanted. And I did for a number of years. Though I had drifted in my actions, God never let me drift from the truth I knew deep in my spirit.

Evidently, the author of Hebrews knew the danger of spiritual drifting—and even knew some of his readers were thinking about it or perhaps already had. They had heard God’s Word about Jesus—who he was and what he did. Drifting back into their old ways of living or drifting over into the camp of false teachings was dangerous.

Anytime we drift, we’re taken away from the truth. As a teenager, I drifted from the truth that obeying God’s commands was necessary for God’s blessings. I walked away from the greatest command to love God with my entire being. Drifting also stole my thoughts. As I began to think about enticing rebellious acts, I began to formulate a plan as to how I would commit them. When my thoughts drift into forbidden areas, my actions will soon follow—and they did. Sins begin in the imagination and if not curtailed will birth themselves into actions.

Drifting affected my relationships. I didn’t feel comfortable around church members. My lifestyle was different. My parents’ beliefs and expectations seemed old fashioned and unreasonable. Instead of forming friendships with peers who would encourage me spiritually, I chose ones who were drifting like me. Since I wasn’t consulting God, drifting led me into many unwise decisions.

My drifting reflected selfishness. Life became about me and what I wanted. God’s plan wasn’t considered. It wasn’t until some years later that I decided drifting wasn’t all it was cut out to be. I discovered God hadn’t moved—I had. Fortunately, he let me drift back.

Jesus says no power or person can remove us from his hand, but he does give us free will to make decisions. Some apostatize and consciously turn their backs on God. Others drift slowly. At what point a person drifts away from what they had with God, perhaps we can’t know. We look at fruits; God sees the heart. But the solution is not to drift in the first place—and if we do to quickly confess and ask God to restore us. It’s never too late to drift back to God if you’ve drifted away.

Take the One Escape Route from God’s Judgment

So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak (Hebrews 2:3 NLT)?

He was a new dad, she was a new mom, and I was the firstborn who had the advantage—or disadvantage—of experiencing all the things new parents do with their firstborn. One thing my dad did was instigate a practice fire drill. He gave Mom and me the preferable escape route but then provided an alternate one as well. If I couldn’t get out of my room, I was to use the baseball bat he placed by my window and burst the window so I could climb outside. Breaking a leg, ankle, or arm was better than getting burned.

First century Christians had heard of Jesus. Perhaps some had even met him. When they were presented with the opportunity to accept him, many did. Now they were considering drifting back into their old patterns of living. Some had never drifted into the new pattern of living to begin with. For them, there was no other hope.

Dad had an escape route available in case our house caught on fire. He knew I’d need to get out to escape injury or death. God knows we need an escape route from spiritual burns. The difference is that Dad established alternate escape routes. If the hallway was on fire, I could burst the window and jump. If I could get into the hallway, I had two doors to choose from, depending on where the fire was.

Not so with salvation. All religions are not equal. There are not many routes to God. It does matter what I think about Jesus. Jesus said he was the only way and that the road was narrow. Many would try alternate routes—and do, and many would choose to travel the broad path—and do.

Just as I would have to put forth effort to escape the fire, so I must if I’m to connect to God. Simply knowing what Jesus did on the cross isn’t sufficient. Confession and repentance of my sins are required if we’re to evade the spiritual and eternal death that waits for us otherwise.

Taking action to avoid a potential fire results in life. When we confess our sins, Jesus promises to forgive them and grant us eternal life, which begins now.

Once reconciled to God, we do not have to fear judgment. Unbelievers will stand before God’s judgment to receive their final reward. The only judgment believers will experience will be a judgment of our works for the sake of rewards. Heaven or hell won’t be in question if we’ve accepted Christ. He was judged for us. Our message to others must be to accept Christ. He’s the only way to escape God’s judgment.

Control Your Steps by Depending on the One Who Is in Control

In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him (Hebrews 2:8 NIV).

Once a week, I feel as if I’m out of control. When I begin using my computer and things progress very slowly, I know updates are downloading. My cursor performs funny tricks—if it works at all. The internet moves at a snail’s pace—often freezing up. Yet, there’s nothing I can do short of waiting for the updates to download. Things will get back to normal shortly. Downloads aren’t complete without restarting the computer and then waiting on configuration. Though I’m in manual control of my computer, I feel as if things are out of control. My computer operating system—combined with the internet—appears beyond my control.

For a time, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. During his earthly ministry, he voluntary limited himself in using his divine attributes. But the story hasn’t ended. One day everything will be placed under his sole authority: angels, Satan, demons, nature, and humanity.

God created us with free will which in turn allows us the liberty to do what we want within certain limits. When we do as we please—following our own selfish guidelines—we make a mess. Because of all the help we have, it’s easy for the world to appear out of control. Somewhat like my computer.

I finally surrendered to the update process. I’ve learned my fussing, complaining, and stewing won’t change a thing. My computer world won’t function properly until I let the updates install. After the updates are complete, I have control again. (I actually never lost it. I could have disconnected from the internet and stopped the process.)

Appearances can be deceptive. The world may look as if it’s careening out of control, but God has it firmly gripped in his all-powerful hands. Knowing this, we can face each day with optimism rather than discouragement and depression.

Acknowledge God’s control over your life, and live life confidently. He will keep us from drifting into forbidden territories if we’ll depend on the power of his Spirit in our lives.