Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Scratching the Surface of Leviticus
Scratching the Surface of Leviticus
Most churches have officers like deacons, trustees, elders, and so on.
While different churches understand the functions of those labels/officers in different ways, all of 'em agree with Paul, "We each have different work to do. So we belong to each other; and each needs all the others."
Churches work best when they recognize and celebrate interdependence as a reflection of dependence upon God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
As part of Paul's mentoring Timothy as a young pastor, he said church officers "must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome and not a lover of money...Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders."
My particular church has said "those who undertake particular ministries should be persons of strong faith, dedicated discipleship and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the Church and in the world."
That's a lot to swallow.
I'll never forget an elder who asked after considering such prerequisites for church leadership, "Who's left? I don't think I've ever met anyone who meets all of those qualifications?"
He was/remains right.
God came in Jesus because we need Him to save us from the penalty of not meeting those expectations.
God knows nobody's perfect.
Excusing bad grammar like He excuses bad behavior if we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, the best that's humanly possible is being more better than worse as we try to honor Him as our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Simply, church officers do their best with His help to talk (confession), walk, (conduct), and look (countenance) like He is their Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
It's called holiness.
Geezers who sing "Take Time to Be Holy" and succeeding generations who sing "Wholly Yours" with the David Crowder Band know it means being so dedicated to God that Paul's revelation about an increasingly intimate relationship with Him becomes real: "It is no longer I who live but Jesus who lives in/through me."
That's what Leviticus is all about; praying and laboring to be holy for our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Or as Dr. Macleod often lectured his seminary students, "God acts for us and our salvation and we respond by worshiping Him."
Leviticus, which sometimes just seems like a bunch of laws about almost everything because, uh, it just seems like a bunch of laws about almost everything, is the Owner's manual providing the rules for our relationship with Him; instructing how to be holy for Him.
Increasing intimacy with God = increasing holiness in/through/for God.
Oswald Chambers provided a simple maxim for increasing intimacy with God: "Keep right at the Source." He explained, "If you find your life is not flowing out as it should, you are to blame; something has obstructed the flow...Is there anything between you and Jesus Christ? Is there anything that hinders your belief in Him?...Keep at the Source, guard well your belief in Jesus...and there will be a steady flow for other lives, no dryness and no deadness."
Bluntly, hang out with Him and He'll hang out with you.
That's how holiness grows in our lives; and, again, the holier we are for Him, the more we begin to talk, walk, and look like we're related to Him.
Increasing holiness as a result of increasing intimacy with Him compels loving Him by loving more like Him; or as Leviticus highlights a thread weaving throughout the Bible and tying behavior to belief, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Surely, no matter how good we are or become by increasing our intimacy with Him, perfect obedience/holiness to all of those laws in Leviticus or anywhere else in the Bible is impossible because we're so human.
Yes, we can become more better than worse; yet perfection is as unrealistic as even memorizing all of the laws in Leviticus.
Ain't gonna happen.
I may be wrong on this but I think that's why God listed all of 'em so early on in the Bible. He knew yet wanted us to figure out how impossible it is for us to earn His esteem; or as someone said, "The works of my hands cannot fulfill the law's demands." He knew yet wanted us to figure out our need for Him to bridge the distance between perfect obedience/holiness and even our best efforts to comply; and, of course, that's where He comes into our lives as Savior: "Remember, if the first covenant had been able to reconcile everyone to God, there would be no reason for the second covenant."
Simply and summarily, Jesus does what we cannot do for ourselves. He as Savior confirms our relationship with Him as Source, Starter, and Sovereign from Genesis; making us for Himself: "Let us make people in our image."
Anyone who gets that/Him prays and tries more than less and more better than worse to obey as much as humanly possible with a passion to praise and thank the only One capable of taking care of us now and then.
That's why people who get that/Him have always pleaded, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
That's why officers along with everyone who get that/Him pray and try so hard to be holy; not missing the forest for the trees in Leviticus.
Or to borrow and modify a phrase, we do our best to be holy and leave the rest to Him.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!