Sermon in a nutshell: “Are you in or out?” (Leviticus 20: 22-24)
God is Holy!
God is Holy! Even though God is our Father, God does not have just intimate relationship with us. There is a gap that we cannot cross over between God and us: God is the Creator and we are His creatures. That is the meaning of the proclamation that God is Holy!
God’s rules show that God is Holy!
God designed the whole universe and there are certain rules. We can make a “water fountain” but the water eventually comes down because of the “rule of gravity.” Water fountain is an artificial human device to make the water temporarily go up for a while. All the human efforts and systems are like that. We can make them work for a while even when it is against the rule of the universe. However, eventually it will go away. No airplane can fly forever. It has to come down and fly again. Some people can live against God’s rules for a while. All of us, however, cannot go against God’s rules forever!
The land will vomit us from the land.
When I say that an airplane has to land after a while, nobody object to it. But when I say that we cannot live against God’s rule forever, many people do not like it. If they do not like what I say, they would not like what God says: “You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them, so that the land to which I bring you to settle in may not vomit you out. You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.” No wonder why many people do not like churches and the Bible. They do not want to hear the words of God, not to mention following them. As a preacher, I have to find a way to deliver this message so that people can accept it.
You will inherit the land.
God is already using a different way of saying the same truth: “But I have said to you: You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God; I have separated you from the peoples.”
Instead of talking about negative consequences of our actions, God is talking about positive fruits of our behaviors. God has separated us from the peoples! That does not mean that we have to have a ghetto where we alone can live separately from the world. That means we have to live out God’s love in our lives so that everybody can see. Then we will inherit the land.
Concrete Examples of Holy Living from the sermon of Jesus.
Then how to live “holy living” to show and tell God’s love to everybody? Here Jesus gave us some examples in his sermon on the Mountain in Matthew 5.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at another person with lust has already committed adultery with the person in the heart.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven”
There are many more rules but I do not want to make anyone overwhelmed. Did I just do that? If you think I did it, listen to Jesus, our Lord:
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Let us just focus on one at a time!
Let us just focus on one rule at a time. God understands that we are trying. Which one are you going to try this week? Let us walk together one step at a time. Someday, we will become perfect in love as our heavenly Father is perfect. The by-product of such holy living would be possession of Promised Land. I pray that we all should inherit the land of milk and honey.
- Read Matthew 5. Which one are you going to work on this week?
- What rule is the most difficult one for you to follow? How would you overcome the hardship?