Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Hebrews 13 begins with a list of things we should do:
– Do keep on loving one another (v. 1).
– Be hospitable to strangers, for some have entertained angels this way (v. 2).
– Remember prisoners and sufferers (v. 3)
– Do honor marriage and keep the marriage bed pure (v. 4).
– Stay free from the love of money, be content with what you have (v. 5)
– Remember that God is your companion and helper (vv. 5-6).
– Do respect people who teach you scripture and faith and how to live (v. 7)
– Don’t get carried away by strange teachings (v. 9a).
– Do strengthen your hearts with grace (v. 9b).
Mostly a positive list. But strangely, the author inserts a “don’t” near the end. He says, “Don’t be carried away by strange teachings” (v. 9a). Then he comments on food, saying, “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods.” (vv. 9b-10).
Don’t be carried away by strange teachings? What do you think that means? Maybe the author is talking about people who invest time and energy and research and focus on issues that are not central to the gospel or Christian living. Shifting focus from primary to secondary things distances us from the heart of God.
The author uses ceremonial foods as an example. You may have heard strange teachings about food that go like this: “God’s Old Testament food list is still part of our Bible and can still have health benefits if we follow it. Let’s talk about health food. And vitamins. And minerals. And refined sugar. And antibiotics in meat. And whether tomatoes are good for you.” A worthy discussion if you don’t give it undue importance or let it carry you away.
Facebook and the internet are full of strange teachings–conspiracy theories about big pharma and big government and big climate science and the Illuminati and Bill Gates. Some give it a gospel veneer by quoting Paul, We must be aware of the devil’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11).
It’s easy to get carried away trying to figure out the devil’s schemes, to see the world through conspiracy theories instead of through faith. To develop a suspicious edge, seeing intellectual and social and medical scams everywhere. After a while, it’s just me and a few wise doctors and a couple courageous media outlets who have the truth, who are exposing the great evils of society and trying to protect me against them. So we form our little reactionary tribe, sniping at the government, the media, and modern culture.
Listen to Jeremiah’s advice to the exiles in Babylon. He did not say, “Watch out for their false religion. Pray against their evil empire. Be suspicious of their motives.” His message from God was, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city where you are in exile . . . Don’t let prophets and diviners deceive you. . . . They prophesy lies in my name” (Jer 29:7-9).
Our Father, we live in a day of divisive politics. Lies and conspiracy theories are everywhere. Spiritual forces of evil abound.
Help us not to be carried away by strange teachings. Give us the spirit of truth. Give us discernment to see the good and bad of society, truth and error in the media, the right and wrong in our own hearts. Help us work for the good of the culture in which you place us.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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