"For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:2-4 ESV)
People dismiss Jesus so lightly and casually.
Some are casually profane, using Jesus' name in a throwaway manner, similar to "G-dammit" or "OMG". Others quietly dismiss him by ignoring his claims and neglecting any serious consideration of who he is and what he came to do. Some people are very open and outspoken in rejecting his existence and his identity. Either way, people daily wave aside any serious thought about him. It's so casual, and very dismissive. And very dangerous.
Why is this so dangerous? The Bible is very clear that not receiving Christ (a biblical term for faith) is so serious as to deserve God's judgment and the eternal fires of hell. Isn't that an over-reaction on God's part?
Here are four considerations:
1) To reject Jesus is to reject the only One who is able to rescue us from ourselves and from the coming judgment. He alone has the goodness and authority to stand before God on our behalf. He alone has the power to save us. He alone is able to bear our guilt and sin and to take it away (John 1:29). Our biggest barrier to knowing God is our own unrighteousness. Most of us think deep down inside that we are good people. And many religious founders have given us ways to climb the ladder of our goodness to reach God. But only Jesus sees us clearly from God's perspective, and he came down from heaven to bring us salvation. We in ourselves do not have the goodness necessary to obtain eternal life. In Christ we receive the life and forgiveness that no one else can provide for us: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
2) To dismiss Jesus is to reject God the Father, the One who sent his Son into the world. Jesus spoke often of "Him who sent me..." (Jn 12:44-45; cf. John 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:38f; 7:33; 9:4; 12:44f; 15:21; 16:5). There is an eternal connection between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. To receive one is to receive the other (Matt 10:40). Conversely, to reject one is to reject the other. To wave aside Jesus is to spurn the love and kindness of the Father in providing for us such a wonderful Savior. Further, it is to reject the character and attributes (qualities) of the Father which we see in Jesus, who is the true Image of God. "He who has seen me has seen the Father..." (John 14:9-10). So, to reject Jesus is to reject the kindness and goodness of God.
3) To reject Jesus is to reject God's purpose for us as human beings. We were created in the image of God in order to reflect the goodness and glory of God in his universe. Our sin fractured that image. In Jesus, the true image of God, we see God's design for the human race, God's intended purpose for us. To receive Christ is to begin a transformation into his character, a shaping of the nature of our eternal destiny. Jesus is the firstborn of many sons (Rom 8:29). So, to reject him is to say we have no desire for that future, that we will not have that destiny for ourselves. So, we reject God's purpose for us and the possibility of a glorious future. In the Gospel of Luke, we read, "...but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves..." (Luke 7:30).
4) To keep dismissing Jesus is to be resisting the Holy Spirit who came to testify of the truth of the gospel, and to convict us to come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. The Father and Son have sent the Holy Spirit into the world to call us, to draw us, and to convict us that we need the Lord (Jn 16). He comes to impress upon us the truth about God and about ourselves. To resist this, and to keep resisting, is to close the door on eternal salvation (Matt 12:31-33). The first Christian martyr, Stephen, said to the respectable crowd (about to kill him), "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51).
To dismiss Jesus is no light thing. Paying no attention to his words will be disastrous for you. It is a personal rejection, and involves rejecting God himself, his love and character, salvation and forgiveness, the Lord's good purpose for us, the Holy Spirit, and any hope of a glorious destiny. All of this is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. To dismiss this One, this Jesus, with a wave of the hand is to reject not only the Triune God, but also, every good thing we could possibly hope for. It is a personal insult to the greatest Being, the Creator of the universe, and our only hope for salvation. Jesus portrayed this in a parable:
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them." (Matthew 22:2-6 ESV)
What would the king then do? Go to Matthew 22 and read the rest of the parable. Then keep reading the gospels and ask God if these words are true. It is critically important to pay attention to God's invitation, and to consider the claims of Jesus Christ seriously. What you do with Jesus will determine your eternal destiny. As the author of Hebrews wrote, "how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?"
Image credit: above is "The Light of the World," painted by William Holden Hunt, ca 1851-56.