This phrase has been in my head a lot lately. "Make every effort".
Much of the time when I consider my faith I focus on the bottom line, the minimum requirements, the smallest amount possible. What am I to avoid. What can't I do. What exactly do I have to do. Give me a checklist and I'll try to accomplish that.
Or I often hear people, or hear myself suggest to people, to find balance. Everything in moderation. Balance your lives. Be willing to experience the extremes, but know you can't live there.
But the language of Jesus and Peter and Paul and the writer of Hebrews is opposite of that. Instead of defining the minimum standard and the bottom lines basics they challenge us to pursue faith the to the fullest. Life to the fullest. Live in the extremes. Make every effort to embrace discipline. Make every effort to embrace salvation. Make every effort to embrace Sabbath. Make every effort to embrace peace.
It seems counter intuitive sometimes. Especially as we consider that faith is free. And that salvation come by faith alone. Yet we are to make every effort to enter the narrow door. Or to make every effort to enter Sabbath rest, that seems like an oxymoron. Make every effort to do what leads to peace.
I'm not even sure I know what MAKE EVERY EFFORT means. Right now I just know that I don't do it enough. And even as I typed that sentence I see the frailty of my efforts. I want to know how much of MAKE EVERY EFFORT is enough.
What would it look like if I just went for it? What if I just embraced passion? How would I be different if I truly embraced the idea of MAKE EVERY EFFORT?
He said to them, "MAKE EVERY EFFORT to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'
"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from."
Let us therefore MAKE EVERY EFFORT to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. MAKE EVERY EFFORT to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
There remains, then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, MAKE EVERY EFFORT, to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
MAKE EVERY EFFORT to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
2 Peter 1:5, 10, 15
For this very reason, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my bothers and sisters, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will MAKE EVERY EFFORT to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
2 Peter 3:14
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that Lord's patience means salvation, just as out dear brother Paul also wrote with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.