Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Different in All the Right Ways

Reflections on Leviticus

A familiar command starts off Leviticus 19: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (v2).

We often use holiness to mean moral purity, but in it’s truest sense it means “other.” God’s people are to be other, set apart, different. This passage gives many good ways to be different. It also gives some odd ways. This is the Mosaic covenant, and it doesn’t apply to Christians, but much of what is listed here is repeated in the NT, and so this provides a useful list of things that are important to God.

What would our society be like if we would do these things?

=Each of you must respect his mother and father…. (v3)
=Show respect for the elderly… (v32)

Respect for father and mother can turn into respect for authority, which our society needs. It could also return us to the days of children being expected to support their aged parents rather than expecting society to do so.

=When you reap the harvest, … leave [food] for the poor and the alien. (v9-10)
=Do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great…. (v15)
=When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. (v33-34)

Charity mingled with justice is an idea that could transform a society that tends toward one extreme or the other.

=Do not steal. (v11)
=Do not defraud your neighbor…. (v12)
=Use honest scales and honest weights…. (v35-36)

=Do not deceive one another. (v11)
=Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly…. (v17)
=Do not seek revenge…. (v18)

Don't steal, don't deceive, don't hate. Or as some wise person said, "love your neighbor as yourself." A far cry from our get what you can from whomever you can by whatever means necessary society.

The church is meant to be the community that lives by God’s standards. Even though we’ll never do it perfectly, we need to commit to each other and to our Master to strive to be different from the world in all the right ways.

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