Sunday, July 27, 2008

Living Leviticus

Most people who have studied the Bible would agree, I think, that Leviticus is one of the most difficult books for our era and culture to grasp. Many people simply dismiss it as not for our time. Yet, if we believe the Bible is God's inspired Word, we can't pick and choose which parts to pay attention to and which parts to ignore. Certainly Leviticus was written to the Jews living under the Law, but as Jesus said, He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it.

So where does that leave us 21st-century believers?

That is a question which Pastor Daniel Harrell of Park Street Church in Boston attempted to answer with a group of people from his congregation. After all, Leviticus was written to a community and the Law was meant to be lived in community.

Their journey is covered in this Christianity Today online article. It's a fascinating article, discussing how different people chose to interpret Levitical laws today. But what I found most interesting was the conclusion many of the participants came to:

"Everyone was surprised on one level or another at how the practice of simply "doing what the Bible says" led to insights as to why some of the more obscure laws made it onto the books to begin with."

It probably shouldn't be surprising at all, but in our culture in particular, we almost flippantly use grace as our get-out-of-jail-free card to avoid doing hard things for God, to avoid practicing holiness.

"Leviticus isn't in the Bible merely to show you your need for grace. It's in the Bible to show you what grace is for."

I've been thinking a lot about grace lately, giving and receiving it. But even more, I've been thinking about doing hard things for God, living out holiness when it costs us. As the participants in the Leviticus project found out, obedience, despite its cost, has an unmeasurable reward in growing closer to God.

And that is worth any cost.

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