Holy God, Holy People
If our salvation is all by glory and grace, and if we are not to boast in any good works, why is it so important for us to be holy? If works and holiness won’t get us into Heaven, why should we try so hard to please God? And if no matter what we do, how well we believe, or how hard we try, some things will not go our way but will work out only for God’s will in the end, why should we keep acting in faith? The answer to all these questions is the same: because we love and serve a holy God.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 19:1 through Leviticus 19:14, we begin a new portion for our new week. Parashah 30 is titled in Hebrew K’doshim and it means “Holy People.” The second verse says, “You people are to be holy because I, Adonai your God, am holy.” And everything else builds from there. Every law, every ruling, every direction and teaching all point to the same purpose; be holy because Yahveh, your God, is holy. That sentiment is repeated in The New Testament in 1 Peter 1 where verse 15 (AMP) says, “But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.”
The next verses have a few repeats of statutes given in “The Ten Commandments,” but there are a few more details as well. For example, in edition to telling Israel not to turn to idols, this says for them not to cast metal gods for themselves. It goes on to tell them to make sure that all their peace offerings bring acceptance to them. Next God tells Israel not to harvest their crops all the way to the corners, and not to pick up dropped grapes or ears of corn. Those remaining bits of harvest are to be left for the poor and the foreigner.
As the reading continues, God reminds the children of Israel not to steal from, lie to, or defraud each other, and not to oppress or rob their neighbors. He also says not to withhold pay on the day the work is done, so apparently that is the same as oppressing your neighbor. I can see how it would be more kind to receive your pay the day you work for it, so you can be the one to bank it for interest instead of your boss. I know lots of wait staff who prefer their tips in cash, so they won’t have to wait to receive them on their paychecks.
On the topic of being kind to each other, God reminds the community members to never speak a curse against a deaf person or put an obstacle in the way of a blind person. I find it a little sad that God had to tell people that though. It would seem that not being unkind to someone who struggles would be common sense, but with so many physical weaknesses being signs of sinfulness, maybe the people felt judgment against those who bore such weaknesses. Maybe it even made them feel justified in their cruelties. Still, to me, kindness seems like something that should not have to be taught.
Above all else, God reminds Israel not to swear by His name falsely since that would be profaning His name, and He reminds them that they should fear Yahveh and remember that He is The Lord. That’s a wrap-around of what our reading started out with. So, if we remember that Yahveh is our God and our Lord, and we remember that He is holy, we should automatically desire to be a holy people as a way to honor our Holy God.
I believe people who don’t know God fight His laws simply because they are of God. But for those of us who know Him, that should be reason enough to not fight them. It is reason enough for me, as someone who serves Him because I love Him, to adhere to a lifestyle of holiness because He is a Holy God. I don’t want to look for whatever I can get away with because I have His mercy and grace on my life. Instead, I want to please Him because He showed me that mercy and grace in spite of the fact that I did not deserve it.
In truth, the laws of God would serve all humans well. I mean, why should the world get offended by the idea of putting “The Ten Commandments” in public places when most of the rules given there would only serve to make life better for all of us? Is there anyone who likes to be lied about or lied to? Is there any parent who does not desire respect? Is there anyone who wishes for themselves or someone they love to be murdered? I don’t think so. What God calls being holy to Him is mostly just a matter of taking care of ourselves, our neighbors, and the world around us where we have an influence. Those who don’t serve God may call things like this “random acts of kindness,” but those of us to love Him know they are a way to get in touch with the holy part of Him that dwells in us.
That holy part of God that lives in His believers is what cleanses us to make us fit for the building. It’s also what smooths us to where we can be fitly joined together, and it’s what binds us together in Him. His power gives us the energy that makes us living stones. When we come together according to His plan, His light within this temple of living stones will shine out from us to draw in the lost and confused or our world. More than our “good” behaviors, His holiness set free within us and governing our desires is what makes us a holy people and a holy temple. What better living offering can we give to a Holy God?
P.S. On the subject of the holy temple, I want to link you to a long but worthwhile article by Chip Brogden from The School of Christ. It’s called “Escape from Churchianity” and it explains how the church (the ekklesia) is to be a holy temple of Christ that is built of living stones. You can read it for yourself at http://theschoolofchrist.org/articles/escape-from-churchianity.html where you will find other great articles and books as well.
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