Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I’ve been reading Leviticus. In Leviticus Holy God is present. Not present is some vague, purely spiritual way but tangibly present among his people such that the implications of his holiness overwhelmed every aspect of everything they did. The continual killing of animals and the constant smell of burning carcasses and drying blood made unmistakable proclamation of immediate Holy Presence.
Leviticus is intense; worship was exact and invigorating and terrifying, and I wonder if not thoroughly satisfying. Even the most mundane parts of living had significance – what you ate, what you said, what you touched, whether you kept a promise, got sick or got better, made love to your wife, had a good season at work - everything mattered with unrelenting intensity because there was no mystery, no grey area, Holy God was present. People were either clean or unclean. The “clean” could live close to and within the boundaries of the Holy Presence and the “unclean” were forced to stay away, outside the camp. Every action in every life carried some immediate consequence because every action was exposed to the Holy Presence that occupied the tent and overwhelmed the people.
Reading Leviticus makes me feel like I hear Jesus talking about a used cup full of coagulated crud while I’m still holding the towel I used to wipe off the outside. I feel exposed.
Leviticus gives me a sour sensation in my belly, that emotional nausea you get when you glimpse with clarity the real you; because I am forced to admit I invest too much time working at staying unaware of my true character because I choose to be safely unaware of the immediate presence of the most Holy God.
Leviticus makes me wonder if I have misappropriated the grace of Jesus. Was the Old Covenant replaced with a new one so that the Holy Presence of God would be mitigated or removed altogether? No, it wasn’t.
Freedom from ritual does not mean freedom from significance – at least it shouldn’t. So, I fear there is something too different about my faith versus the people living around the tabernacle; something too informal, too tolerant, too lazy, too unafraid. I am convicted about having allowed my world to become so secular that I numb myself to what should be obvious consequences of the sin I commit and drown out the messages even infirmities in my body try to send my soul.
So I’m here, after much hesitation, in the blogosphere because I want to confess that I want to clean out the rest of the cup. I want to smell the blood and the rising smoke so my gratitude for the effects of grace will sting in my eyes and bloody my hands with obedience. I want to feel the isolation and defeat and terror of my sin and not the numbness of indifference. And, I want the church to come with me because I want us to be the church. We will powerfully and supernaturally mediate the presence of God in this world when we, the church, live fully exposed to and constantly aware of the Holy Presence.