Recently, the church which I attend has started a few weeks back reading through the first couple of books of the Bible (Genesis to 2 Kings to be exact). Each week we are to read through a book of the Bible from the old Testament. So far we’ve read through (or were supposed to read through) Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus (we’re supposed to be on Numbers this week). To be honest, I’m still in Leviticus. It’s a tough one to get through. It can seem very tedious and boring at times. It can seem nonsensical at times. It can seem arbitrary at times even. Even subjective rather than objective.
Yet there’s a running theme throughout the whole book: Holiness. In fact that word “holy” itself (קָדֹושׁ kadosh in Hebrew) means to be different, to be set apart, to be distinct, to be other.
Nothing sums it up better than what God says in Leviticus 11:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45
We are to be holy as God is holy. You see, God is holy. He is other. He is different than us. In fact, if I had a god that wasn’t different than me I wouldn’t want them as a god. Because of God’s holiness and differentness we need to be different and other as well. In order to approach God, we need to be in a state of holiness and differentness.
Now for the people of Israel this meant living differently. Living distinctly. Living in such a way that they showed the rest of the world that they were set a part, that they were different than all the other nations and people around them. In their distinctness they were to show that they were the people of God, the one true God.
God’s laws weren’t arbitrary. They all had meaning. They all had ways in which the people were allowed to be made holy and enter into His presence. They might seem odd to us, but they meant a lot during their day and age. God also created laws of living in such a way that it was a new ethos, a new ethic that was different from the nations around the people of Israel. Even women and slaves were given certain rights, rights that the rest of the nations didn’t have. Even foreigners living among the people of Israel were given rights (Leviticus 19:33-34). People were to show love to their neighbor and not hold grudges (Leviticus 19:18). This was all to live differently.
As a follower of Jesus, the Law of God is fulfilled in Jesus (Matthew 5:17). In Jesus we are made pure and holy when we invite Him into our hearts to allow us to live for Him. We still need to be made holy in order to approach God. And we can do this by doing some simple things.
In the Gospels, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. His response is priceless and simple:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ And the second is this ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Mark 12:30-31
Love your neighbor as yourself stems from Leviticus 19:18. To love God with all of who you are stems from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. The Law of God is summed up here.
Now, how does this make it odd ball holiness?
Because it makes us different. It is different to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is different to give all of ourselves to someone else let alone a higher power than ourselves. What’s more is that the word for love here is a strong love, an unconditional love. A love that goes beyond boundaries. It is the same love God has for us. And so we are to love God with the same love he has for us and to love ourselves with the same love God loves us with and in doing so love our neighbors with that same type of love.
Odd. Strange. Weird.
Odd ball holiness is when we’re willing and wanting to step forward and act holy. Now, I’m not talking about being a holy roller, annoying Christian who has to say “Jeeee-zus” every other second. No. Not at all. The odd ball holiness is wrapped up in acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. It means speaking up for those who have no voice (Proverbs 31:1-9). It means being willing to speak up when someone else is being treated wrongly, poorly, unjustly. It means to be willing to get dirty and be present with someone who is in the dirt themselves. It means to give your all to an invisible God who is immortal, God only wise.
It’s odd. It’s not normal. It’s different. And what makes it holy is when we do so in Jesus’ name in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When the Law of God, fulfilled through Jesus, is enacted in our lives, there is a new ethos in which we live by. We show we are different. And when we are different, we show that we truly live holy lives in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Be odd. Be weird. Be different.