Holiness or Grace

We have lived so long in the covenant of grace, we have forgotten what life was like during the covenant of holiness.

This morning as I continued my chapter a day reading through the holiness code of Leviticus, I was struck by the contrast between Jesus' role as the great high priest and the original boundaries drawn for that role.  The great high priest had been set apart from the world.  He was to live in such a way that his lifestyle represented the holiness of God.  He couldn't marry whomever he wanted, but must marry a kin who was a virgin.  He could not attend his wife's funeral, nor touch her body. If his child had any physical disability or "abnormality" the child would not even be considered for the role of the high priest in the future.  See Leviticus 21.

Although Jesus never married, his life crossed the boundary lines of the holiness code.  He shared a cup of water with a "loose" woman, a Samaritan no less. He touched the coffin of the deceased and told him to "get up."  He hung on a cross as a curse and then a blessing for all!  And yet he was called our "Great High Priest."

The curtain of the temple tore when Jesus died, but Jesus had already torn the curtain by his actions.  When the holy walks among us he changes things. 

I think we still struggle as a church today in discerning how to respect God's holiness while being people of grace. We have all received God's forgiveness and in many ways Christ's life amongst us revealed to us that none of us really were living in holy ways before his appearing as Jesus of Nazareth. His life redefined holiness, not as being set apart as untouchable, but being set apart by his obedience to God. Our reverence shifted from being expressed in a building to being expressed in community.

As Pentecost approaches we are reminded that God was really doing a new thing in creating His Church. We are reminded that we still are called to live holy lives, but those lives are to be lead by the Spirit, not the flesh.  See Galatians 5


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