Good morning my friends,
I believe we have lost a bit of respect for our God. There was a time when we would dress our very best on Sundays as a sign of respect. We would treat everything to do with worship with a sense of reverence and perhaps fear. I know I was raised to respect the property of the church because it belonged to Jesus. As a child, if I was going to be bad on Sunday, I would wait until I was away from the church. Perhaps a silly idea but one that showed I was raised to respect what belonged to God. Unfortunately the teaching that everything belongs to the Lord did not sink in as far.
As we read Leviticus this morning we get this same sense of reverence and respect for the things of God. God demanded it. The priests no longer belonged to themselves but to God and they were expected to behave in a manner different from the general population. In fact, this was so important that any priest who had a defect could not make the offerings. They were not cut off and rejected from the priesthood; they simply could not approach the holy things of worship. Why? Because:
I am the LORD, who makes them holy. (Leviticus 21:23)
In a couple of generations where irreverence is the rule of the day it is hard for us to understand this kind of respect. The problem is, if we lose respect and fear of our God then we also lose them for the created things of God. Would you say that we live in a society that emphasizes respect for our neighbours or do we place our rights above those of our neighbour’s? Consider some of the teachings of Jesus. What did he emphasize? What about Paul’s letters? What did he often say?
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:37-39)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
As we lose our love, our respect of our God everything else begins to slip as well. But do we not realize that we too have been called as priests, to serve our God with our lives? Do we not understand the importance of treating all of God’s created things with respect but especially his holy things, our brothers and sisters? We too have rules to follow but these rules spring willingly from hearts filled with love for our God:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:1-17)
We are a holy people, instruments chosen by God to serve his holy purpose. Either we have forgotten that fact or we have forgotten our respect for our Holy God. We continue to look for that renewed spiritual awakening.