How We Can Pay Closer Attention
by Robby Higginbottom
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?
Drifting is subtle. The driver just glances at her phone, not realizing that in two seconds she could be colliding with oncoming traffic. The college freshmen just wants to be accepted, not imagining that in two months he could be doing things that would have shocked him two years ago. At first, drifting is subtle, but eventually it is surprising. “That will never happen to me!” gives way to “How did I end up here?” Drifting is like auto-pilot, but one day we wake up and scream, “Who’s flying this thing?” Drifting is like the Lazy River, but one day we wake up and wonder, “Where’s this current taking me?” By the time we wake up, we’re often far from home.
Drifting is serious. What’s true when we’re in the car or on the campus is just as true when we are in Christ. In Hebrews 2:1 we read, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” The Lord Jesus Christ “is the radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:2) and has done everything necessary to save His people, and yet we can still neglect “such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). If the Lord is calling us to pay much closer attention to what we have heard, how can we do that? What would it look like for our intensity to match the danger of drifting away?
As God’s people, we need to realize the crisis. When we hear God’s warning sirens, we can’t be like those who hear of a great storm and ignore the threat. Waking up to the danger means asking the Lord to reveal to us the subtle ways that we are drifting. When we are drifting away from meaningful time in God’s word, from vital connection to the body of Christ, and from living for His kingdom, we are drifting somewhere. So where are we drifting? To what communities are we turning to find a place to belong? To what “gospels” are we turning to find life and salvation? And what kingdoms are we building? Drifting doesn’t feel like a crisis. An obsession with family or school or work or sports or possessions or influence doesn’t feel dangerous. But it is these things—often some of the best things in our lives—that cause us to drift away from Jesus Christ. And since they’re so good, we hardly notice.
If the Holy Spirit helps us to realize the crisis, the next step is simple: run to Christ. We run to Jesus with full confidence that He will graciously receive us and gradually renovate us. We run to Jesus by seeking to abide in Him each day, by opening His word and praying that He would help us to live in it and under it. We run to Jesus by seeking to live openly and honestly with His people. We demonstrate our dependence on Him by welcoming people into our lives who can help us pay much closer attention and not drift away. As we own our need for other people, we also discover that they actually need us, too. We run to Jesus by reminding ourselves that we don’t exist to build our own kingdom, but to extend His! The most impressive of our kingdoms is a sandcastle compared to the kingdom that Jesus is building. He longs to free us from fear and to welcome us into a life much bigger and better. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
How are we tempted to drift away this week? By God’s grace, how will we pay much closer attention to what we have heard? With confidence in His love for us, we can be honest about the crisis we’re facing. With confidence in His power within us, we can run to Him and rest in such a great salvation.