Wikipedia tells me that the book of Leviticus has 2 central beliefs: the first is that the world had been created ‘very good’, retaining the potential to be that once again despite the awful things which had happened in human history; and the second that there are certain rituals which ensure God’s presence among the people, the absence of which would create dis-harmony between God and his created order.
Wikipedia, it would seem, has summed up what is for me one of the most complicated and confusing books in the Bible in a short and eminently understandable few lines!
Leviticus has been in the spotlight in recent weeks for its pronouncement of law on sex and specifically on homosexual behaviour/activity. I am not going to nail my colours to that particular mast right now; but I hope that in being as honest as I can be in this post, I might encourage more of us to look more deeply at our relationship with the God of Levitical Law.
In all of what Leviticus says about sex, and there’s a lot, God seems to be saying “What you do in private is as important to me as what you do in public” I might stretch that to say ‘What your heart/mind/soul does at its most vulnerable, is more important than what you do or say in public’.
We all have our ‘public face’, the one we allow the outside world to see. Perhaps it’s the one we wear to work: professional, caring, efficient etc. We may then allow our good friends to see a little more of our ‘true self’: displaying frustrations, talking about hopes and dreams maybe. There may even be someone you share more of your life with than anyone else: a spouse perhaps, or housemate. They see your immediate and sometimes intense reactions to the stuff of life that happens to many of us: frustrations and failures at work, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, illness, death of family members, family breakdown. But I have come to the conclusion of late that very rarely, married or not, do you ever truly know another person fully. The ‘faces’ that we wear can be so fixed in place that they hide a multitude of thought patterns and behaviours which can destroy ourselves and the relationships we are surrounded by. And often we are not even really aware that we are doing it.
I have a thought pattern, a little train of thought that has been with me since early teenage years. It has only really become known to me in recent years and I only really realised just how destructive it could be in the past few weeks when it suddenly dawned on me that, unchecked, it could easily destroy my marriage.
The thought patterns that our minds do when we’re not really noticing; the ‘little’ ways that we think don’t really matter, or we know do really matter but we’d rather hide them away from everyone we know, including those most important to us; those thought patterns are more important in our relationship with God than what we do when wearing our public faces. We need to give them up, or risk not only the destruction of physical relationships but also do damage to our connection with our creator God.
Let’s remember that God knows our thought patterns, every one of them, and loves us more than we could possibly know or imagine. And let’s then determine we will not try to hide from God. I have always loved the words of Psalm 139 and they’ve never seemed more relevant than now.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Ps 139 v 7 – 12