Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When a Lizard Falls in Your Favorite Pot

What if a lizard falls into your favorite clay pot? 

“And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. These are unclean to you among all that swarm. ...And if any of them falls into any earthenware vessel, all that is in it shall be unclean, and you shall break it" (Leviticus 11:29-31, 33).

Break it, really? That pot belonged to your great-grandmother. It's irreplaceable. Certainly a good scouring will suffice. Who will ever know?

It would have been so easy, it seems, for the Israelites to hide some of their seemingly small sins--so easy to break these specific, odd laws without anyone ever knowing. Mildew spots on the wall of your house? A mysterious sore on your arm? You could cover these up, at least for a while.

And I do. I downplay my sin; I consider it so minor it doesn't really need to be confessed. I hide and rationalize. I look at others, comparing myself to them instead of to Jesus, and think I'm doing just fine. But I can't live by my standards, or the world's standards--I'm called to live by God's standards. And even if I don't understand *why* something is a big deal to Him, it has to be a big deal to me anyway.

The NIV Worship Bible offers this helpful prayer in the margin next to Leviticus 11:
"Clean and unclean animals, ceremonial law--what was the point, Lord? Was it just to keep Israel distinct and separate? Was the ceremonial law a symbol of something else to come? Even when I do not understand Your ways, help me, Lord, to treat seriously what You consider important. Help me to discern the substance and truth in what You demonstrate. Help me to observe the details of Your call to holy living in Christ. And help me to pay careful attention to the things that matter to You, even when they seem to be harmless to me. Teach me to live by Your standards, and not by the standards of the world."

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