The Gospel and the Leviticus Shaped Life

I was told that it might be helpful for me to place some of my sermon points from yesterday up on the blog today.

We have been speaking for the past few weeks on a covenant shaped life of worship and ethics from the book of Leviticus.  From our consideration several points have emerged clearly for us.

1.    Worship and ethics are inextricably tied to together.  The biblical text knows no worshipper who is not shaped by covenant ethics and no ethicist that is not shaped by and driven to God centered worship.

2.    Repentance is a necessary core element of authentic worship.  It makes worship, atonement, reconciliation, and community possible.  It acknowledges the sinfulness of the worshipper and the holiness of God.

3.    Concerning worship, God must be seen and responded to as holy, that is, wholly other than anything else we know. The more we perceive God to be like us the more we will drive recklessly toward an idolatry that will make much of us while leaving us in our sin.

4.    Concerning worship, we must see ourselves as profoundly sinful at our core yet defined by God’s actions of deliverance and dwelling as the people of God, who live to make much of His great name among the nations - including our own.

5.    Embracing sin and impurity is a profoundly hostile act that determines loyalties to self and sin rather than to God.

6.    Concerning a covenant shaped ethic, our lifestyle and morals are peculiarly shaped by the reality of the living God in our midst.  We cannot and will not be coerced by our context.

7.    Our view of the world must be serious rather than trivial.  We must acknowledge the existence of our brothers and sisters who are the oppressed, the poor, the outcast, and engage them seriously.  Neglecting them or supporting those who a oppress them appears in more than one text to be high treason against them and the king of kings.

8.    We must engage the “stranger” and “alien” in our midst in such a way that we convince them of the greatness and goodness of the living God.

I concluded with the following remarks.

1.    We must speak/ preach/ sing the gospel to ourselves and one another constantly.  A wonderful preoccupation is to resolve to discover new ways that we might be able to do this.  Several points may be made on the necessity of this exercise.

a.    It will guard us from prostituting worship as some existential moment meant to communicate our great worth.

b.    It will provide mental, emotional, and spiritual muscle for keeping holiness and repentance at the core of our definition of worship.

c.    It will sufficiently humble us from believing that we have anything of which we may boast over another.

d.    We will not be able to view humanity as our context demands nor act toward them without a cross centered ethic of mercy, justice, righteousness, and wisdom.

e.    We will be able to grasp the place in which social justice work belongs once we can seamlessly articulate to ourselves what it is that has driven us to justice and what the goal is that we search for in the hearts and eyes of the landless among us – namely one more individual who finds freedom from sin and is morphed into a worshipper and lover of Jesus who operates subversively in this world with a holy ethic indicative of one whose final destination is not this world.

f.     It will provide genuine unity and thereby energize our own evangelistic efforts: the world will know that we are the followers of Jesus and that the Father sent him when we have love one for another.