“Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” – Virginia Woolf
In theory, people relish the idea of love and peace, but in practice not so much. Some time ago I watched a portion of a documentary on the life of John Lennon. The front man for the Beatles was very vocal in his life time about social and political issues. One striking thing I noticed about his “agenda”, if you can call it that was that it was oversimplified. When dealing with complicated and complex issues he would make statements like this, “Just give PEACE a try.” When asked to elaborate or explain he would just say something like, “peace works, it will work, just give it a try… it is not complicated.” This is not too different from politicians and celebrities today. They make claims of “love” “peace” “getting along”, but usually have no concrete ways of accomplishing such goals. Instead everything is abstract or exist on in theory. When given possible solutions, they are quick to react and say, “That is wrong or unloving”, but never seem to have anything substantial to propose.
What person in their right mind would say, “We want war instead of peace, or hate instead of love”. The reality is that life can be a bit stickier and more complicated than that sometimes, and we need specifics about what is meant to accomplish such means!
God declares to us throughout the book of Leviticus, and throughout the Bible, “BE HOLY”. It is not given in abstracts and theories, but rather is given with clear practical instructions. Leviticus 19 gives us these holiness instructions.
Holiness is a key theme in chapter 19, and is the key theme of the book of Leviticus. To be holy means to be separated unto God, set apart to him, sanctified. God is interested in His people acting like His people. He desires them to be distinctly His, peculiar people, wholly set apart.
The phrase, “I am the LORD” or “I am the LORD your God” is used sixteen times in this text. This is not by mistake or accident. God is trying to show a radical truth, He is holy so look to Him to define holiness. Don’t miss this, the truth of this passage is that our relationship to the Lord should define and determine our holiness! If you want to know what is right, holy, and sanctified look to God who is the embodiment of holiness. Our relationship (not our rules) to Christ then produces holiness. 1 John 4:19 gives us a radical truth, “We love him, because he first loved us.” One author said it this way, “Rules without a relationship breed rebellion.”
We live in a time when “love” is a popular mantra, but the actual practice of unconditional love is rarely lived or experienced. Biblical love is that which is practiced. It is not self-centered, it never compromises truth or morality, and it is always connected to holiness.
In Chapter 19, God takes the idea of Holiness, and gives some very concrete ways in which holiness is lived. It can almost feel like a machine gun firing bullets of unrelated truths at us. This text can be summarized simply though… Love God, Love Others. Jesus actually summarized the Law in these simple terms in Matthew 22:37-40 – “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Isn’t it incredible that God connected holy living with love? The most perfect way we can show love to others is to know the Love of Christ ourselves. The closer you get to Christ, the more holy you become… it just works that way.
I feel sorry for Christians whose lives have become a series of regulations and rules: I can’t do this, I must do this, I feel guilty about this. Most of that would simply go away if you would get your eyes off of man, and solely focused on Christ. Find your completeness in Christ today, and discover the truth of 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” I discovered true love and peace in Christ and a deep meaningful relationship with Him.
Today, walk with Christ. I am not talking about a list of to do’s or rules, I am talking about a relationship that is enamored with the Love of God.
Daily Scripture Reading
Leviticus 19 - 21
(Follow this Scripture Reading Plan to accompany this devotion and read through your Bible in a year)
“Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”