This past weekend a mesmerizing flurry of media coverage swarmed around a thing known as the Oscars. It is one of the most narcissistic events on the American calendar. What other groups of experts or elites demand the world’s attention while they congratulate themselves? They are so absorbed in themselves and believe that their self-proclaimed importance demands people attention.
What you see in public is often the reflection in private. Our western culture’s infatuation with self-aggrandizement communicates the message, “This is all about me!” The signs of this mentality are ever present in our local communities and, yes, even in our own lives. It is dangerous, however, when this idealization of ourselves appears in our worship.
An important phrase suddenly thuds through Leviticus 18-20 like the beat of the drum. It actually is repeated over forty times throughout the entire book! Remember, the message of Leviticus teaches God’s holiness is powerfully good. No one can come to God on their own terms. They risk a lethal reaction when God’s holiness encounters man’s uncleanness. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, attempted to entertain God’s presence but failed to observe the proper prescription. They were struck dead by God’s holy power.
Leviticus is never really about men. Clear, y all the instructions are given to people, but it is a book about the distinction of the Lord your God. There’s the phrase: “I am the Lord.” The repitition beats into the heads of the Isrealites, “This is not about you.” It is about God. It’s more about God’s desire to be with His creation than man’s desire to be with His Creator for the Bible correctly chronicles, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). The first mention of “I am the Lord” in Leviticus helps tune our hearts to God’s point. “I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy…For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45).
Modern-day believers sadly have perverted this original truth. Paul asks the question for us, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1)? Of course we should not! It’s not about you. He is the Lord that saved you from that sin. Why should you yield your members as servants of sin? Our churches need to restore the distinction intrinsic in our worship. Followers of Christ need to shed the tired excuses for their promiscuity and gluttenous indulgence. Why? This isn’t about you. Paul gives us a powerful reminder in his letter to the Thessalonians:
As ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more…For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour…For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 3-4, 7)