This week’s reading for our MULTIPLY discipleship is on “Sacrifice and Atonement.” Scripture reading takes us briefly through some chapters in Leviticus.
Leviticus 19 sticks out. It is a call that has been with Israel and still comes to the people of God today… or should. (We’re just not very good at it at times.)
Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’ (Lev. 19:2)
Holiness was a code when I was growing up. It was how you looked. It was what you didn’t watch, places you didn’t go, things you didn’t smoke or drink, etc. Outward codes. When we read Leviticus, it’s fairly easy to get that initial impression.
That impression leads probably every one of us as believers to push the line on those “codes” at times. We think we’re being “rebellious” or maybe even “truly spiritual” or some other excuse. We’ve pushed some visible boundary and, lo and behold, we have not experienced fire from heaven, or the ground opening up and devouring us!
Holiness has never been just about the outward. The outward may look different at times… but for an inward reason.
Holiness is about “otherness” or “distinctiveness.” It is about something separate from the ordinary or the common.
Here is what I find interesting at this particular point: We are inundated in our culture with the different and we are almost commanded to acknowledge and “affirm” the different, yet when the Church talks about being “different”… we raise all kinds of objections and all of a sudden we want to be “common.” Go figure.
Holiness is about being set apart and there are times that may look different. God is the One who is truly “wholly other” so our call is to heed HIS direction. That may look different from time to time. Behavior may be different.
Holiness is about desire. God is wholly other… and he calls me to himself. Do I desire to listen to that command, or do I desire to keep being absorbed into what I know?
It is, without a doubt, a choice. It is a call. It is an invitation. But if I am to be with God I am called to HIS standards… and that means a choice. Do I desire HIM above all other desires in my life? Am I willing to lay all my life on the table before him so HE gets to make the call? If I am not willing, or if I am making excuses, then I am NOT “set apart” and he is NOT my God. It’s that simple.
It is PAINFUL to think of this, which is why we have moved away from words like “holiness” and “sacrifice” and “atonement.” We crave normalcy… and God calls us to a new normal.
Yet, this is the crux of where we are in discipleship. All that has come before in MULTIPLY has led us to this point. All that will follow has to flow from this foundation.
Am I set apart for God or not?