In my daily reading I came across this verse (in Leviticus) talking about the rules for priests and this verse caught my eye:
6 They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings made to the LORD by fire, the food of their God, they are to be holy.
I began writing a note in my bible about my (and other pastors/worship leaders/church workers/etc) role saying, "We are called to holiness because we present what we do directly to God".
Then it hit me. The reminder that the application of this old testament verse totally changed upon the death, burial, resurrection and the subsequent birth of the person that been saved by Jesus. This verse is no longer a verse to temple/tabernacle priests (or to pastors, preachers and church workers). This verse is a verse to everyone who has asked Him into their life. Read this:
4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Did you read that? YOU are being made personally into a holy priesthood. If your life has been changed by Jesus, God is looking to you as a priest. Is that a trip or what? You may not consider yourself a priest but God does. You might ask yourself the question, "am I truly representing Jesus as a priest?". Most people would rather be spiritually blind to this fact and live below its truth, beneath the calling that Jesus has called us to, but the calling on your life as a believer (and a priest) is high.
You know, there are a lot of deep theological things happening here in this passage but let me break it down to today's subject:
Because you are a priest you must be holy to God. Because you are a priest you must not profane the name of God. Because your life is supposed to be an offering to Jesus (Romans 12:1, 1 Corinthians 10:31), that life must be one that is holy towards God.
How many times have I been in a situation where someone would be talking to a group of people (believers) and I come up and (seemingly) kill the party? They're all laughing and telling jokes that were obviously acceptable for them to hear and laugh at but were not acceptable for me to hear…
"You wouldn't want to hear this, Mike", (or see, do, go… you add the appropriate verb). "I mean, everyone else will think this is great and hilarious, but you wouldn't". And you know, honestly, they're right about one thing: I wouldn't normally enjoy it or think that it's funny. It's not because I don't like to laugh. It's not because I'm prudish. I think it's because there are just some things that are unacceptable behaviors for people who are supposed to be representatives of Jesus. My question often (in my mind) is, "how does this bring glory to God?".
The reason that they think that I wouldn't want to "see, hear or do" it is because we have what I'll call, "class holiness" (I think that I just coined a new term ).
How about this: I believe that God calls all of us to a higher level of holiness. "Class holiness", meaning, one level of holiness for a pastor and a lesser holiness for laypeople, leads to unrighteous living and brings everything and everyone to a lower level. It is my desire to inspire people to live their lives worthy of their calling, 1Corinthians 10:31 style.
Remember, if Jesus lives in you, you're a priest whether you like it or not.
(Oh, by the way… before all of my religious friends come out in full-force to support me "WholeHeartedly" for letting "them" have it may I point out that:
- holiness isn't a style of dress,
- a commitment to rituals
- or a set of rules that you choose to live by that makes you feel superior to others.
Most of the time I have found that many who live what many in today's church deem a "christian" lifestyle (meaning they don't drink, smoke, watch "R" rated movies or listen to secular music) are far from living a holy life: many say inappropriate things to others that they wouldn't say to Jesus or display attitudes towards others which are far from being Christlike.)