We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. Hebrews 5, verse 11.
My friend, you may not like hearing this but you’re slow to learn. Dim, dull, impaired, sluggish, ignorant: guilty, my friend, both you and I. We are slow to learn matters of God’s heart. You’ve heard the Biblical account that King David was a man after God’s own heart. I think that, perhaps, David was just a man, albeit an extraordinarily talented man but that his real advantage – his only real advantage – in life was that he wasn’t slow to learn what matters most to God. He paid attention to God, and sought Him out even when David made mistakes. What would King David, or his wiser son Solomon, say about us?
Last night was a tough night at the call center. Our mission is to call, call, and call, attempting to sell satellite radio programming to people who recently completed promotional offers. In an average four hour shift, I usually call about 150 people, and I might make 4 sales out of all those calls. That works out to a 3% sales rate for all the calls, and I’m at the top of my group. Last night, I made 280 calls in a five hour shift and made zero sales. It was discouraging but had to be done. The most memorable calls were with some severely disgruntled customers who decided I would be a verbal punching bag. I really don’t know why some folks seem to enjoy being nasty but two customers last night seemed to be enjoying it with gusto. Profanity, yelling, humiliation, insults; try packing uber-portions of those things into an unplanned telemarketing call with a sales agent who can’t respond in kind and can only apologize on behalf of his employer. That’s what these guys from New York and Washington did. At the end of the calls, I honestly but reluctantly said a couple of quick prayers for these irate people, but it didn’t feel too soothing.
And then there’s Black Friday. I don’t like the idea of it. Me, I’m an ardent capitalist, and in theory, enabling stores to sell what they want when they want to is a great thing. The combination of Judeo-Christian ethics, free market capitalism, and representative democracy has given rise to the greatest system for improving humanity that humanity has ever devised. Yet I’m repulsed by Black Friday. I’m repulsed by stores being open on a day set aside to thank God. I’m sickened at the thought of hordes of people camping out to save pennies on meaningless stuff. I’m revolted by the pictures of crowds fighting in Walmart and Best Buy for loss leader worthless widgets ridiculously discounted. It’s their right; I don’t dispute that. I am simply disgusted by it on Thanksgiving…and this year I participated, taking my grandson shopping while others ventured out to do same. That not only disgusts me more: it makes me a hypocrite.
What about the election? In our lifetimes, has there ever been a more vitriolic, bad-tempered election than the one of 2016? Both sides are guilty, and the losing side has shown nothing but sour grapes ever since the results came in. If you pay attention to the media, it doesn’t promise to get better any time soon. I’m with those who predict that every issue will be battled mercilessly and endlessly every day going forward. It’s even more repulsive than Black Friday shoppers fighting over NES game systems.
Wanna know the reason why all these things happen? It’s because we’re slow to learn. Our sin choices make us ignorant and immature. The author of Hebrews has spent five chapters explaining things about Jesus’ role in our lives. Here in chapter 5, he’s explaining why Jesus is so similar to the ancient priest, Melchizidek. And before he goes any further, he says that he wants to explain more but his readers wouldn’t understand it. First century Judea didn’t have Walmart or Hillary Clinton, but I’m betting the marketplaces, synagogues, and common streets were full of the same kind of invective and discord that plagues our world today.
The author’s Hebrew readers were slow to learn what mattered to God, and they weren’t much different from their ancestors in King David’s time a millennium before. They weren’t stupid; you and I aren’t stupid either. They were stubborn; so are we. They were experienced yet immature in following Jesus, and many had been educated in the Torah and the ways of the synagogue for decades before that. Yet they were slow, sluggish in their faith. They were not much different from Black Friday electors who could be unkind to strangers on the telephone.
They’re the people Jesus came to save. They’re us.
For further reading: Hebrews 5:6, 5:12-14.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being so much better than me. Thank You for not being slow, and for being wise, full of grace, and patient. Help me to models these parts of Your character.