Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,
‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honour,
subjecting all things under their feet.’
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
The Book of Hebrews reminds us that God is most present not in the realm of angelic perfection and beauty but in the messy human struggle for “the coming world.” (Heb 2:5)
The angelic realm is pure, harmonious, full of glory. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the angelic world where there is no racism, no anti-semitism, no sexism, no heterosexism, no classism, none of the oppressions we wrestle with here.
But God did not send Jesus to be born into the angelic world.
Jesus did not come for the sake of the angels but for us. (Heb 2:16) It is not the angels God has entrusted with the future to come. God has subjected the coming world to humanity, to us, imperfect and broken as we are. (Heb 2:8)
When we get tired because progress seems so slow, maybe Hebrews can help us remember that in the midst of our very human struggle for justice, inclusion, and love is where the Presence of God is thickest. This struggle is where we come closest to the atoning work of Christ … not in the realm of the angels but in our human struggle against the stubborn oppressions within and around us.
As General Conference approaches and we wish it would be a time of angelic harmony, peace and understanding, Hebrews reminds us that Jesus, the pioneer of our faith, became perfect through suffering. (Heb 2:10) The perfected world and church we long for comes only through struggle.
Later in Hebrews the writer encourages us “to not grow weary or lose heart” by remembering that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” who have persevered. (Heb 12:1-3) So when the struggle feels frustrating, hopeless, even demeaning, we know we are where God is moving most profoundly.
LGBTI United Methodists and allies in the midst of the struggle, may Hebrews help us remember we are part of a great cloud of witnesses who will encourage generations to come.
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