The Bachelor and Thoughts of Holiness

200px-Thebachelor-logo_bach_logo_v3b_0Over the past few days I’ve really been thinking about holiness. Specifically the verse in Leviticus where it says, “Be holy for I am holy” Leviticus 19:2.

How did I come to ponder this question – you ask? Well the answer is “the Bachelor”.

Like I’m sure many of you on Monday nights, if your spouse is flipping through channels and lands on the Bachelor – you pull out a commentary on Leviticus and start reading right? Okay…so just me. But that’s what happened.

But as I read this commentary the author made a brilliant and profound argument for how our view of holiness should change. He started to note how holiness got integrated with power and fear, not through a careful reading of Leviticus but through our cultural baggage. Holiness is not simply not breaking certain taboos, it is a call to life with God. He writes this: Holiness is the work of creation, the giving of life…Holiness is a calling to be with God where God is and where God goes.

And this got me thinking, what does holiness look like? We often hear words like separation, like sacred, and sometimes-even connotations like reverent fear – or just plain fear and wrath. The question I’ve been thinking about is, while those themes are surely there in the Bible, what is the predominant picture of holiness in the Bible? What does it look like in real life? Is this untouchable, transcendent, otherness, that if crossed unintentionally or incorrectly leads to death (which is a view many hold of God)? Or is it something else? How do we best understand it?

After pondering this question for a while the really simple answer took hold of me in a new way. Clearly the answer is Jesus – right? I mean the answer is always Jesus…but what if we really radically accepted that? Holiness must theologically look, live, and act like Jesus. Holiness must enter into lives for transformation. Holiness must not entail this false duality of sacred and secular but instead, must infuse holiness into the world. Holiness must look like Jesus, if Jesus is God and God is holy.

Who knew something productive could actually come out of The Bachelor.

So I’m still really letting this sink in and see how it might outwork deeper into my life. But I think it’s a really valuable question to wrestle with: What does holiness look like?

And however you answer the question of what holiness looks like – I think it should look a lot like Jesus.

Throwing Parties, Spreading Grace and Thanks

On Sunday we discussed a missional spiritual practice that is quite unique. The giving of thanks.

In Leviticus 7:15 we read an odd verse. A verse that talks about eating all the meat of a sacrificed cow in one day. The meat that is sacrificed in a thanksgiving offering must be consumed on the same day. Embedded in this odd verse is a community shaping practice. Because the only way you can eat a whole cow in one day…is with a whole community…

So what would happen is simple. God would provide for you in some way, and out of thanks you’d sacrifice a cow. You’d give back to God, but then you’d be required to give back to the community because you wouldn’t be able to consume the whole cow in a day. So you’d invite family, friends, and neighbors over for a party. You’d provide all the food, and a giant feast. But it wouldn’t be about just spreading good food around, but also deep gratitude for God. Because the natural question for everyone there would be “Why the party?” And when they would ask you would share what God had done in your life. You’d share how God provided, and all of a sudden thankfulness is spreading through the community, God’s activity moves from private to public, and people have an opportunity to be changed through a party.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

That God would think of such a process? That he would ensure that his people would throw parties full of thanksgiving and praise to him?

What if we actually took this verse seriously and when God did things in our lives we reached out to our friends, family, and neighbors with an invitation to a party – where we shared the good things God has done?

Wouldn’t that start to change people?

What if your neighbors consistently were invited to great parties, where people were celebrating how Jesus has changed and impacted their lives? Wouldn’t you want to join in the party, the celebration, and maybe even following this God? What if generosity, gratitude, and grace became the hallmarks of being a Christian? Wouldn’t this type of living change our communities?

I think it would.

So my challenge to you this week is simple. Plan a party. Throw a party. Invite everyone, and give thanks to God. Because as Leviticus says, all the meat must be eaten the same day. Or in other words, celebrate God’s goodness by throwing a party and sharing grace with others. It’s a simple action, but sometimes the simplest ones are the most powerful.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Giving thanks means thanking God and sharing it with others

Take Aways…

  • “If weren’t not thankful for the small things, we won’t be thankful for the large things” Estonian Proverb
  • Gratitude to God isn’t to be kept private but shared in public.
  • For Jewish people all of life is gift…so do you appreciate the gifts around you?
  • Biblically we demonstrate our thanks by throwing a party (Lev. 7:13)

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stood out to you from this morning’s talk? What made you laugh? What made you think? What was new?How grateful do you think you are as a person? How good are you at seeing and appreciating the gifts of God? What might you be able to give thanks to God for today? Think about throwing a party. Who might you invite? How might it spread grace and gratitude?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Share with your kids why it is important to give thanks. Spend time talking to them of all the things that you are thankful to God for. Ask them what they are thankful for God for. At a meal this week rather than just “saying grace”. Share what each of you is thankful for.

Challenge for this Week:

Throw a party for your neighbors and share a reason for giving thanks.

Learning from Leviticus

On Sunday we are looking at one of my favorite books. Leviticus. My guess is that it isn’t one of your favorite books. But on Sunday was are going to be learning something unique about God, and giving thanks. My guess is that you know how important giving thanks is. On Sunday we will discover how it can not only change your life but change your community.

But before we get there why don’t you take a moment, get a coffee or a good drink, slow down, and ask yourself what can I be thankful for? Take a moment and think of all that God has given you? At first it might not seem like a lot.  Maybe it might be tough but it is important. We all know people who seem overcome with bitterness and anger, being stuck in an unhealthy space. The way though to prevent bitterness from taking root is to give thanks.

So today slow down and give thanks and then share why you are thankful with someone else. And as we’ll see on Sunday, that’s the start of changing communities…