"Let it be your ambition to live at peace with all men and to achieve holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others. Be careful too, that none of you falls into impurity or loses his reverence for the things of God and then, like Esau, is ready to sell his birthright to satisfy the momentary hunger of his body. Remember how afterwards, when he wanted to have the blessing which was his birthright, he was refused. He never afterwards found the way of repentance though he sought it desperately and with tears." Hebrews 12:14-17
What I find interesting about these verses, apart from their tone, is the way that the writer gives us three different challenges, each of which is a balance between earthly things and heavenly things, and each of which is impossible unless we're totally serious about that balance. Here's the three juxtapositions I'm noticing:
1. Peace with all men/Holiness
2. Non-robust response to grace/Bitterness of spirit
3. Falling into impurity/Non-seriousness about the Birthright-blessing
And just so this doesn't read like some academic exercise, let me put my point into three questions around those balances:
So what comes first; what is primary? Things like abiding in His holiness, responding fully to His grace, founding our lives upon our new-birthright because it pleases God: because God desires it.
So then, what would be secondary? Things like abiding in His holiness, responding fully to His grace, founding our lives upon our new-birthright because these heavenly realities are life to us, our new life within the veil.
And so, you see, it's only out of learning to please Him and fully grasping what's ours in the Kingdom of Heaven that we have any hope of these tertiary actions of loving the world around us.
Hear me clearly: Our abiding in Him, first, means life for this world. And: Your personal intimacy with Jesus is the greatest force the world will ever reckon with.