Pastor Kyle McIver
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? - Hebrews 2:1-3a
I was struck by this warning in the opening verses of Hebrews 2 the other day. And this morning I simply want to pass on this word of exhortation to you all, with a couple of comments to emphasize the weightiness of these verses.
First - notice that we must hear the good news. We must pay attention to what we have heard… what is it that we have heard? Consider the connected warning in the next sentence asking how we shall escape if we neglect such a great salvation... What we have heard is the news of great salvation - the gospel message. And what is striking here is that we must pay close attention, lest we drift away. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: you simply cannot be neutral toward Jesus. You can’t set the gospel on the shelf and stay put yourself, neither growing nor backsliding. Either we pay close attention, or we drift.
The next logical question then is what does it look like to pay attention? One of the reasons this passage struck me so directly is that it hit on my own recent experience. About a month ago I came down with COVID, and my primary symptom was fatigue. I was really, really tired for four or five days, and then slowly got back up to a normal energy level over the following few weeks. Now being tired, I needed more sleep. And needing more sleep ended up meaning that I couldn’t get up early like I normally do.
And my habits of grace suffered. I was very infrequently in the Word and in prayer. And I felt it. Honestly, I very much felt adrift! My thoughts were consumed with everything else… my focus flitted from work to sports to complaining to house cleaning to being frustrated about my circumstances... I needed to get recalibrated, refocused. I needed to pay much closer attention to what I’ve heard, lest I drift away from it.
Whether it is an illness, or targeted marketing and advertising intended to capture our eye, or simple distractions, there is a great contest for your attention. And my exhortation for you this morning is to consciously, consistently, remain in control of the battle for your attention. Be active and on the offensive. Read your Bible. Meditate on God’s words. Pray. Engage in spiritual conversation with your brothers and sisters. Listen to edifying sermons and podcasts and music.
Pay attention to Jesus and to the gospel message of such a great salvation, lest you drift away from it.