“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever”
Although it’s probably safe to assume that the writer of Hebrews 13:8 was trying to communicate that Jesus doesn’t change, it’s always good to look at the context of any verse before jumping to conclusions. As you’d expect verse 8 follows 1-7, seven verses that explain how loving one another, hospitality towards strangers, remembering prisoners and the ill-treated are amongst the things to evaluate leadership against. It reminded me (Phil) of Jesus’ intent in Luke 4 and Matthew 22, words which would have reminded His hearers of Isaiah 61, Leviticus 19, 25, Deuteronomy 6, 10, 13, 30 and Joshua 22. It seems to me the author of Hebrews is emphasising how these things were important to God “yesterday” in the past, remain important “today” and will “for ever.” Some may seek fame, fortune or followers, but Hebrews urges leaders to seek verses 1-7, because these are the greater things.
At our gathering of Church leaders in February we began by reflecting on Hebrews 13:8, beginning with some of the things God had said to us in the past (“yesterday”) that still influence the way we love, show hospitality and remember others, to this day.
Refresh – “today”
As we shared and celebrated how God’s words to us the past had lasted and bore fruit today, we also recognised that as a result we ought to expect to see change in our circumstances, contexts, perspectives, relationships, understanding, etc. If not, perhaps we ought to be asking why not. We began to reflect on the danger of living and working based on a webpage that hasn’t been updated.
Reflect – “yesterday” (last year)
Soul Action is blessed with an incredible team who through creative prayer stations created a safe space for leaders to reflect on relational and spiritual change, change they wanted to see and challenges they faced.
Refocus – “for ever” (NIV) or at least “tomorrow” (MSG).
After reflecting on change, leaders spent time seeking God for a focus for the coming year. They shared some of the things that might get in the way of what God wants them to achieve, whilst Rachel helpfully shared a personal example of how limiting assumptions might have been a hindrance to what she felt calling her to do. Leaders discussed which of the potential barriers they’d discussed were actual facts, i.e. true, certain, real or unchangeable, which were possible-facts, i.e. berealizable, feasible, probable, likely but uncertain, and which were bedrock assumptions about self and how life works, i.e. beliefs, opinions, suspicions or theories.
We finished by asking “What if?” What if some of our obstacles weren’t facts or possible facts but limiting assumptions? If leaders knew the opposite of what they feared was actually true how that would affect their approach to achieving God’s goal for this year?