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Don’t Be Swept Away

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. —C. S. Lewis 

Can you imagine growing up through middle school and then high school and college, entering adulthood and whizzing through your 20s and 30s and 40s without ever changing? For those of us who’ve lived more than a few decades, we can’t help but look back at the changes in our character, priorities, and even beliefs and be amazed at the contrast between who we were and who we are. 

Now imagine a person for whom the above isn’t true. Their character and beliefs have remained exactly the same—yesterday, today, and forever. 

This is our unchanging Jesus. 

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. (Hebrews 13:9a) 

The language here is more accurately translated, “Do not continue to be carried away.” The imagery is a flash flood picking us up and sweeping us along. As we walk with Christ, we will reject anything foreign or inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. 

But what, exactly, are these strange teachings we need to avoid? 

Strange teachings pull us toward law and away from Jesus, taking our focus off Him and instead directing our attention toward a specific activity or ritual. Before we know it, we’ve incorporated novel practices into our spiritual life—an unnecessary addition to the Gospel. The Gospel is enough all by its lonesome—we need not be ashamed of it, add to it, or modify it. But the temptation to do so is everywhere, and it’s easy to get swept away. 

How can we adhere tightly to the first and only Gospel of grace? We can be strengthened by it. 

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace … (Hebrews 13:9b) 

Jesus—who is the same yesterday, today, and forever—indwells us. He’s our anchor. His unwavering presence will help us stand strong and resist the pressure to add to His Good News. 

Jesus, let me not be ashamed of the purity and simplicity of Your work and teachings. When the temptation comes to get swept up inside something other, anchor me steadfast. May I always proclaim the simple, pure Gospel of grace at all ages. Amen.
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