Separateness Not Superiority

Scripture Focus: Leviticus 11.47
47 You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean,

Acts 10.15
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 

Reflection: Separateness Not Superiority
By John Tillman

The Israelites were charged with making distinctions between holy things and unholy things. One of the ways this was carried out was in dietary laws.

To modern sensibilities the dietary laws seem strange and puzzling. (Pigs are unclean but crickets are on the menu?) These regulations may have been given, partly, for health reasons or may have had to do with the animals being used as sacrifices in the worship of other gods. The new nation needed defining cultural touchstones that would remind them of who, and whose, they were. The dietary laws were a part of building this culture. 

God’s regulations often include practical concerns not just spiritual concerns. However, the practical “why” is always less important than the spiritual act of obedience. Obeying the command to “be holy” is what makes us able to be a light to the world. No holiness, no light. However, over time, the idea of being separate engendered a sense of superiority.

Throughout the Old Testament law we see the principle that uncleanness transfers by touch from one thing or person to another. In Jesus, the disciples saw a new thing. Jesus touched the unclean and made them clean. (Matthew 8.2-4) Jesus touched lepers, Samaritans, the demon possessed, and even the dead. The unholy became holy. The dead became alive. Rather than them making him unclean, he made them clean. Like the coal taken from the altar that cleansed Isaiah’s unclean lips, Jesus cleansed what was unclean. (Isaiah 6.7)

Today we, like the Israelites, are charged with keeping ourselves holy. (Matthew 5.48; 1 Peter 1.15) There are sensible and practical ways that we can separate ourselves from the cultural flow of unclean philosophies, practices, or theology. But we must not allow our separateness to breed superiority. Believing God about what is unclean, means believing him about what is clean and about what may be made clean.

The Spirit of Christ is within us and we are his body. We have Christ’s power to touch the unclean and make them clean. His power in us can redeem broken people, systems, or philosophies, with the touch of the gospel. 

God shows no favoritism but instead accepts those who acknowledge him and do what is right. Like Peter, if we open our eyes, we may find many things and people around us that seem unclean that God desires us to touch and make clean.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. — Psalm 85.9

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 11-12 (Listen – 7:20)
Psalms 13-14 (Listen – 1:43)

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We Need Renewal :: Worldwide Prayer

Psalm 14.2-3
The Lord looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

Reflection: We Need Renewal :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

In Psalm 14 we see a picture of a searching God. He is searching, looking, hoping to see someone, anyone who is searching and looking for him. No one is. All have turned away to something else.

Sometimes when we read in the scriptures that there is no one who does good, we fool ourselves by thinking we are the exception. But God is clear. We are all corrupted and broken.  

The scripture says we do not seek God, but instead have turned away to corruption. That corruption is the reason there is no one who does good—even the good we do is corrupted.

Each one of us desperately needs the renewal and redemption entreated by both the above Psalm and the prayer below.

A prayer for renewal from the USA
Father,

We praise you for your Son who broke into history and through his life, crucifixion, and resurrection enables us to break out of our fallenness. We rejoice in the gift of His Spirit who leads us into abundant and eternal life.

Please forgive our failures in thought, speech, and action, those we omit as well as those we commit. We ask that you bring refreshment, revival, and renewal to your Church. Please visit the world again and again with awakenings by your Spirit that will sweep humanity into your Kingdom and bring greater justice and mercy into our homes, communities, and nations.

May our worship, witness, and work be prompted and empowered by the Spirit of Jesus. Grant that our assemblies and quiet moments be avenues of praise to the Triune God and guidance and power to God’s people in this our day of opportunity. We draw near to you and listen for the words of comfort and challenge that you know we need.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed. — Psalm 51.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 11-12 (Listen – 7:20)
Psalm 13-14 (Listen – 1:43)

Thank You!
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Compassionate God, we are sinners in need of forgiveness. The emptiness within us can only be filled by your love.
We are hurting people in need of healing.
We are angry people in need of your calming presence.
We are broken people in need of wholeness.

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