To the writer of the letter to the Hebrews,
Your name has been lost in antiquity but your letter was never about you. It was always about Christ, our Great High priest. In much the same way as the original recipients of your letter were overjoyed to read of the new replacing the old, the imperfect sacrificial system being fulfilled in Christ, the need for human priests and intercessors done away with, their role fulfilled infinitely better by Christ, countless Christians have also been filled with joy at the completed work of Christ.
Brother, I am writing to you with a heavy heart. I fear that those who have come after you have let the comforts of the world cloud our judgment and deflect our gaze from Christ. The
Today the majority of those who have declared Christ as Lord have sought to replace the Jewish priesthood with a new, equally fallible priesthood of men. We exalt them. We give them vain titles to lift them up. We seek men who are talented and learned to rule over us instead of men who are humble to serve alongside us. For over one thousand years, virtually all of the church was under the dominion of a series of men who declared themselves the “Vicar of Christ”, a special representative of our Lord. These men lived, and still live, in opulence unknown to the world outside of the most privileged few. They arrogantly taught as doctrine the teachings of men. Even after by God’s grace their influence and dominion was largely broken, we have replaced one form of human priesthood with another, replacing “priests” with “clergy”.
We have replaced the ornate religious rituals of the temple with a new set of rituals, rituals devised to show piety and righteousness by those who have no righteousness outside of Christ. Our carefully crafted and elaborate ceremonies would make the sternest Pharisee proud and woe to the believer who strays from the script! We have made laws where none exist and ignored commands when the world frowned.
We have abandoned the simple and humble worship of Christ and sought to build new temples, gleaming edifices full of religious symbols, relics and talismans. We brag of multi-million dollar new building projects to replace existing multi-million dollar buildings. Monologue has replaced mutual edification, the simple shepherd replaced by the CEO, worship that exalts Christ has been replaced by worship that elicits applause.
Brother, I am confident that you have spent these many glorious years with our Savior and have set aside the concerns of this broken world. I long for that marriage feast of the Lamb when we will dine together and this sinful world will have passed away. How I wish the church today would heed the words you wrote so many centuries ago! The hearts of men have not changed much in 2000 years. Men still crave prestige and acclaim, the acclaim of the crowd. Men still desire something, someone tangible to worship and revere.