We FINALLY have had rain this week- and it has been so good for all the plants, grass, everything. We had a rainbow over our pond the other night- so beautiful! And, this weekend looks fabulous as we celebrate the earthly freedoms we have here in America. May we continue to earnestly pray for our country, that our freedoms may not be infringed. (However, should they be so, we have even greater freedom- eternal freedom in Christ!)
This ties in with what I have learned from Leviticus this week. I have been praying and thinking a lot about being a Christian and what that means as I interact with a lot of unsaved people and even Christians who seem to be struggling with their commitment to Christ and how to respond to the great moral dilemmas and conflicts of our society today. These conflicts range from the current social standings with homosexuality/transgender issues as well as with the Black Lives Matter movement. There's a lot of wrestling in opinions and what-to-dos as we navigate these delicate issues with so many people. I recently read a post from someone who claims to be a Christian, confessing that Christians are so hypocritical toward homosexual/transgender people. We are supposed to love everyone and to not discriminate on who people are allowed to love and the choices they get to make. This individual also capitalized on certain laws, rules, and "regulations" he grew up under Christian circles, deeming them hypocritical, restrictive, and unnecessary.
My heart was grieved as I read his comments, but I also found myself (sadly!) agreeing with his statement of Christian hypocrisy and unnecessary, rigorous rules (as far as we so easily and readily pass judgement on those who do not follow said "rules"). As I was reading through Leviticus, I came to chapter 19. In this chapter, the Lord gives us the commands for how we are to treat others: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD" (verse 18). However, in chapter 18, the Lord just completed an entire section on unlawful sexual activities. So, how can all these things relate, yet not relate, yet give us instruction, yet not apply, yet....?? Ugh. I get so frustrated sometimes with the warring within my soul and mind as I grapple with these issues.
As I read this, though, and mediated on things this week, I found the answer to really be so very simple. Over and over in these passages, God repeats this phrase: "I am the LORD". Over and over, God gives commands, rules, instructions, and then summarizes those instructions with the statement: "I am the LORD". I think, in my observation of my own relationship with God (and perhaps you can attest to this also), when I first really began to seek after God and to desire to know Him, I found certain rules and restrictions to be annoying, unnecessary, or troublesome. I read through all these laws and requirements, and thought, "Thank goodness we don't have to live like this!" Or, someone will mention why we don't do certain things or participate in certain activities, and I found myself wondering, "Why don't we do that stuff....?" But, as I truly seek God, to know Him and to understand who He is, I begin to realize that the same God who called the Israelites to perform all these sacrifices and to abstain from all these other things also calls us to this type of lifestyle. However, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus, we are no longer bound to the regulations of the sacrificial system of the earthly, Old Testament priesthood. Instead, we are called to be holy, to be separate from the world, and to be light and salt in the world. Rather than adhering to a bunch of rules and regulations, we are simply called to live like Jesus- why? Because, "I AM THE LORD". That truth has not changed. HE IS STILL LORD! And, he will be LORD forever and ever and ever.
So how does that apply to transgender issues, black lives matter, etcetera?
Quite simply, as we study our Lord we see uncompromising character (holiness, justice, anger at sin, and love). We recognize that while Jesus loves everyone, he abhors and detests sin. He hates hypocrisy as much as he hates homosexuality. Why? Because those things stand in stark contrast to the holiness and love of our God. God created marriage. Marriage is sacred, so to redefine marriage on man's terms is to deny the fact that God "is the LORD". To live our lives in hypocritical judgement of others instead of loving them like Jesus is ALSO grievous. Why? Because he "is the LORD". Matthew Henry explains it this way: "We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And, the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the Gospel!" What does this mean? This means the closer you become to knowing and understanding your God, the easier it is to say why we don't do certain things and do others- because "HE IS THE LORD". Why don't we condone homosexuality? Because this sin compromises the very character and creation of God. He is the LORD. Why don't we go around toppling statues and spreading violence in an effort to create equality? Because God has called us to order, to treat everyone (including authority) with respect. He is the LORD. These issues are "hot buttons", but let me get even closer to the heart.
Why should you not pass judgement on someone who chooses to drink or not drink? Why should you not gossip about so-and-so? Why should you not lie (even a "little" lie)? Why should you not be impatient with your husband, children, etc? Why should you respect and honor your husband? Why should you not refuse to show kindness to that person who looks different than you? Why should you not pass judgment on someone else's music choices or dress? Because, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD".
The more I understand the Gospel and the character of my Lord, the more overwhelmed I am that He would choose to love us, and in that love, die for us. And, then, in his resurrecting power, give us the opportunity to be his lights to the world. Let us remember in all our dealings with others to remember our Lord is holy. He is just. He is love. He is truth. He is good. He is kind. He is patient. He is righteous. He is the LORD. How well are you "adorning the Gospel" to others? I wrote this in the margin of my Bible: "In reflecting on all these things [laws, rules, instructions], I am grateful we are no longer bound to the Law; but I am still called to be holy as my Lord has called me, and to therefore conduct myself- not with hypocritical adherence to my self-made religion- but with fear, reverence, love, and grateful awe for God, Christ, and the Spirit's work in me." I do not do certain things because He is the Lord. My lifestyle and conduct must therefore express the Gospel and the reality of the love shown to all men at the Cross of Jesus.
This is why I do what I do. He is the reason I make choices to do or not do certain things. And, as I seek to understand and know and love Him, I have greater understanding for why God gave us instructions and rules: HE IS THE LORD. And, I love and obey because I understand my worthlessness without Him and my worth because of Him.
These have been my meditations this week. I hope this encourages you to better know and love your God. I have also included with these meditations a link to the song, "My Worth is Not in What I Own". Take some time to meditate on these words and on who your Lord is to you. Ask him to increase your view and understanding of him. HE IS THE LORD!