Maybe the Merriam-Webster folk will get ahold of this post and help me to ease into the vernacular of our day the concept of “held.” Much like, within the last few years, the word woke has been eased into the slang vernacular of this 21st century. A cursory study of the origin and meaning of woke, according to Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching,” reveals that woke originated from some vernacular of a dialect called African American Vernacular English (AAVE), as in “we need to stay angry, stay woke,” or “alert to injustice in society, especially racial injustice or racism.” It is a word that has become entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement and calls its followers to be woke.
So, what does woke have to do with held? Well, we who are committed to Biblical principles, to life styles ordered by our faith in Christ and obedience to His Word, would do well to have #held as our call to action. We need to hold fast to the things which have been committed to us.
- Paul exhorts young Timothy to “hold fast the form of sound doctrine which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:13)
- We are all urged to “hold the traditions which (ye) have been taught, whether by word or by our epistle.” (2Thess. 2:15) Traditions have been badly bashed in our world today. Cancel culture is turning upside down good traditions—truth-based traditions—and uprooting them like the statues of historical men, movements and moments that have recklessly been toppled by mobs some of which knew nothing of the history they were sitting in judgment of, monuments to historical milestones that have shaped our lives and our nation’s history. Not all traditions are bad. To recite the pledge of allegiance, stand for the national anthem, put a hand over one’s heart when the flag is raised—none of these are bad traditions and most all of them have a biblical basis.
- In Hebrews 3:6 believers are “holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope (we have) to the end.”
- And, in Hebrews 4:14: “Let us hold fast our profession,” and the same exhortation is repeated in Hebrews 10:23.
- Jesus, writing to the church in Thyatira in the first century, exhorts “But that which ye have, hold fast till I come,” (Rev. 2:15) and to the Philadelphian church He says, “Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11)
Now, to be sure, Paul instructs the Thessalonian church to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” (I Thess. 5:21) It is not a bad exercise to examine our traditions and discard traditions that are unbiblical, hurtful or outdated. When I was a child, I remember that it was a commonly practiced tradition for women to wear a hat to church on Sunday. Not anymore. It might have been a good thing to do at one time, but eventually it ceased being a commonly practiced tradition amongst church going women on Sundays, and I dare say, not many people miss it.
Sometimes culture dictates traditions. When I visited Russia (the former Soviet Union) in 1989, I was instructed not to cross legs when sitting in a chair. Also, someone told me that I should stop whistling when walking down the street as it might be perceived as calling up demons. I did not understand those traditions but was surely happy to respect them. There was one tradition I had no little difficulty with though. I soon learned by observation that at the close of a church service men were wont to kiss other men, not cheek to cheek, but on the lips. I had to whisper some quick and, on the spot, heartfelt prayers for grace to cope with that tradition!
But I want to be a believer who will be known and remembered as one who #held! Held to the truths of God’s Word, held to the founding principles of our nation: liberty and justice for all and “one nation under God.” Held to the belief “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with the certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” held to the conviction that the United States is a government of the people, by the people and for the people; held to the truth that there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus, (I Tim. 2:5), and that He, the God-man, is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that all men are condemned and estranged from God by sin and are by nature sinners; but that though the wages of sin is death, God commended His love toward us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us; and held to the belief that “being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1) and held that as He promised, Jesus is coming back first for the Church (Rapture) and 2nd, with the Church (Revelation) and after a 7-year world-wide tribulation that will have unprecedented devastation, Jesus will establish His literal Kingdom with its capitol in Jerusalem and for 1000 years will reign “where e’er the sun doth its successive journeys run,” and held that there is a place where the redeemed of all ages will be with God and His Son, Jesus, for all eternity (Heaven), and held that there is a place where unrepentant and unbelieving Christ rejectors will be separated from God and from His Son, Jesus Christ, forever (Hell).
So #held. That’s Me. It should become a movement. And should anyone wonder what would be a fitting epitaph when I have laid down my time worn tools and have preached my last sermon and have breathed my last breath, how about just #held? Nothing would be more coveted to this wayfaring pilgrim having journeyed with Jesus here below than #held.
God help us all to hold!
“Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11)