Against the Drift

Written on: February 1, 2024

Article by: Christopher Wright

As a young boy, I learned an unforgettable lesson about the dangers of drifting, a lesson that has stuck with me all these years. Durning those summer days, my family would often spend weeks at my aunt and uncle’s camp on St. Joseph Island, situated between Lake Superior and Lake Huron in the North Channel. I distinctly remember one bright, sunny day when we were all out swimming. They had a boat anchored a little way off the shore, and we kids would climb up onto it just to jump off again – it was our version of a diving board. On this particular day, one of us – and I’m not going to say who it was – came up with the brilliant idea to unfasten the boat from its anchor. We all thought it would be a great adventure. Little did we realize the trouble we were getting ourselves into. After a few minutes of playing on the untethered boat, we suddenly realized that the shore was a lot farther off than it had been just a few moments ago. It just so happened that we drifted all the way into the middle of the shipping lane. My mom had to quickly enlist the help of our neighbor for a rescue mission, and thankfully, he was able to set off in his boat to retrieve us. What began as an adventure ended up as a stark lesson in the dangers of drifting.

Reflecting on that day as a kid, I can’t help but draw a parallel to our spiritual lives. Just as we hadn’t noticed the subtle shifts in the boat’s position until we were far from the safety of the shore, drifting in our spiritual lives often occurs in a similar way. We don’t always notice it until we’ve strayed far from our anchor in Jesus. Drifting by definition is a slow and gradual movement away from a fixed point or position. It happens gradually, subtly, and often without us realizing it. In our spiritual lives, we, too, can become unanchored without realizing it.

This subtle and often unnoticed movement away from our spiritual anchor can be attributed to a host of factors in our lives. The world we live in is brimming with distractions and false promises that vie for our attention every day. From our busy schedules and the constant hustle of daily life to the allure of material possessions and worldly pursuits, these distractions can easily lead us astray.

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Scripture is replete with warnings against drifting away from our relationship with God and His redemptive plan for us. One such warning can be found in Hebrews 2:1-3a (NASB 95), which states,

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

This passage is a wake-up call from God. It is a profound reminder that drifting through life without anchoring ourselves to the saving grace of Jesus Christ will have devastating consequences. It can be hard for us to hear this, but we need to. God’s word demands our utmost attention. We cannot afford to neglect the great salvation that has been offered to us.

So, the question we need to ask ourselves is, how do we ensure that we are not drifting? How do we make sure that we are anchored firmly to our Rock, to our savior, Jesus Christ. I think a good place to start is with a genuine recognition of who Jesus truly is. This is what is going on in our passage in Hebrews .

Verse 1 begins, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention.” Some translations say, “Therefore, we must pay closer attention.” And the author, of course, is referring to the previous statements he has made. He is saying what he is saying now in light of the preceding argument. This line of reasoning began in chapter 1 where the author emphasized the tremendous reality of who Jesus is. He says, “Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. He is the one who upholds all things by the word of His power.” When Jesus stepped into this world something absolutely incredible happened. The God of all creation, God the Son, took on human form as the final and decisive revelation of God to us. And the author makes it clear, that because this is the reality of who Jesus is, because this is the true nature and identity of Jesus, He is therefore, far superior to everything else. The author goes on to explain how Jesus is far superior to the angels, to Moses, to the Levitical Priesthood, even to the Old Covenant. In Him, there is a new and better covenant, a new and better agreement between God and humanity. He made the old agreement obsolete. There is now no other covenant, and no other way, than the way of Jesus.

What the author of Hebrews is doing here is driving home the point that because of who Jesus is, because of His divine nature and His status as the one and only Son of God, He surpasses all that came before Him. And it is this profound truth that provides the impetus for us to pay much closer attention to His Message, so that we do not drift away from it. And if we are to avoid drifting in our spiritual lives this is where we need to begin. If we don’t recognize who Jesus really is, then we risk drifting away from the truth and forfeit the incredible blessings that come with it.

The salvation that Jesus offers us is far too great to neglect or take for granted. It is a salvation that offers forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life in the presence of all the goodness and majesty of God. It is a salvation that transcends all earthly pursuits and every temporal pleasure. How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The truth is, we won’t, we will end up in a dire situation. So, we must heed the call and make sure that we are securely anchored to Jesus. Because of who Jesus is, He stands as our only Rock, our only hope, that will keep us from drifting into spiritual peril.

Another way we can keep from drifting is by actively engaging in our faith. When the author of Hebrews says, “pay much closer attention to what we have heard,” he implies active listening, and not just hearing. Active listening requires engagement, focus, and response. We need to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, to study it diligently, and to allow it to permeate our hearts and minds. We need to respond to God’s Word, to apply it to our lives, to live it out. We need to cultivate a lifestyle of active obedience to God’s commands and principles. This active engagement with God’s Word will help to anchor us to the truth, to Christ, and prevent us from drifting.

The author of Hebrews also reminds us of the importance of community.

In chapter 3, verse 13, he says: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We need each other. We need to live in community with other believers, encouraging, supporting, and holding each other accountable. We need a fellowship to challenge, correct, and to encourage our faith journey. If we isolate ourselves from the Lord’s church, we slip the moorings that keep us from drifting. We need to secure every connection that we have to the body of Christ.

Finally, the author reminds us of the gravity of the situation – “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

We must always keep in mind the tremendous cost of our redemption – the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. This was not just any death; it was the most poignant display of divine love and grace ever. It was God in human form, becoming sin for us, paying a price that we could never pay, and willingly enduring the cruel cross so that we might have life. Every agonizing step that Jesus took, every stripe on his back and nail in his body, all of it was endured to seal our redemption. This was the greatest gift ever. And the implications of neglecting it are truly sobering. When we neglect God’s great salvation, we devalue the sacrifice of Jesus and disregard the divine love that was poured out for us. If we disconnect from the source of our salvation, we cut ourselves off from God. And he responds by honouring our choice and making it eternally permanent. This Biblical warning should spur us to vigilance, to watchfulness, and to a fervent pursuit of God.

Now, what if we find ourselves already drifting? What if we are jolted awake and realize that we are far from God?

There is no need for despair. Our Lord is patient and merciful. He is like a faithful shepherd who seeks out His lost sheep. He is like a loving father who runs to welcome back His prodigal child. He is always there, always calling us back to Himself, always ready to forgive and restore. It’s just like when I was a kid that day on the boat when my mother got our neighbor to come rescue us. Even though we had made a mistake and drifted, we weren’t abandoned. When we drift in our spiritual lives, God does not abandon us. He’s there, eager to pull us back, eager to restore us to a right relationship with Him. No matter how far we have drifted, His love reaches out to us, and His grace is sufficient to bring us back. We need to remember this – there is no place too far or too remote that His grace cannot reach.

The answer to drifting is to anchor ourselves to the Rock of our Salvation, to Jesus Christ, and to secure our lives to the One who is unchanging, unshakable, and eternally reliable. We need to hear that call. We need to wake up and nurture our relationship with Jesus every single day. We need to hold on to Him as tight as we can, and never let go.

We hold onto Him:

  • Through prayer, talking to Him honestly and earnestly, pouring out our hearts, and seeking His guidance and presence.
  • Through reading and meditating on His Word, allowing His truth to permeate our minds and hearts, and applying it to our daily lives.
  • Through fellowship with other believers, sharing our faith journey, supporting one another, and holding each other accountable in love.
  • By seriously and intentionally living out our faith every day, aligning our lives with the reality of who Jesus is.

May we remain vigilant and alert to the wiles of the Devil and to every current straining against our faith. May we humble ourselves, and knowing our propensity to drift, rely more fully on the grace of God – for divine safety and security, and peace.

Thessalon ON