Rule #1 Continued

I get frustrated by Christian legalism. Probably because I've been caught in that trap before. I call it a trap because it is baited with holiness and purity but then separates you from the very thing you were striving for: Jesus. Don't get me wrong holiness is important and purity essential but legalistic Christianity turns a good thing into something ugly and selfish. We are drawn to the idea that holiness brings us closer to God. But we forget one very important fact. The only thing that can bring us closer to God is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for ours sins [Eph 2:8-9]. And that has already been done. The most dangerous piece of the holiness trap is thinking you are closer to God and therefore better than other Christians because of it. Nothing you do can make you closer to God because Jesus did everything that can possibly be done. Nothing you do can make you better than another human being (even a non-Christian) because Christ died for all. You want to be closer to God? You want to be perfect and pure? Love people! [Matt 5:43-48].

I believe the avenue out of this trap is a simple clarification of holiness and it's purpose. I find it very well encapsulated in the word nazurite. A nazirite in the old testament was someone who set themselves apart to God. The most prominent misunderstanding is that this is a life long commitment. Wrong! A nazirite vow was always intended to be a temporary thing. A man would make the vow for a short period of time, a month, a year. Then at the end of the vow would be free from it's obligations. During that time the nazirite was expected to fast and pray. News flash. This wasn't for God's sake. It is for the sake of the nazirite. Plainly stated a nazirite is someone who removes the distractions of life for a season in order to build up and strengthen their spiritual self. To get rid of the distracting voices of consumerism, greed, and lust in order to hear clearly from the Lord. People think being a nazirite makes you more useful to God. It might but only after the vow has been ended and you go back into the real world. I hear so often the phrase "prayer is not for the higher purpose, prayer is the higher purpose" meaning that the most valuable thing you can do is sit in a room and pray. But's that's very very wrong. The most valuable thing you can do is love people.

Some people in the Bible did make a life long nazirite vow. But only a hand full and those few didn't always follow all of the rules. The fact is a nazirite is nearly worthless to the church, to society, and to his family due to the strictness of his requirements. John the Baptist was a life long nazirite. However Jesus himself was not, he didn't need to be. If you want proof read about Jesus touching a dead body and bringing it to life. That is against the law for a nazirite. As Jesus was without sin we must assume he did not make that vow during his ministry. King David, often called the man after Gods own heart, could never have been a nazirite. God didn't call him to be one. David was a man of war and being a nazirite would actually have prevented him from fulfilling his calling.

Simply stated it is a good thing to set yourself apart to the Lord for a season of prayer, fasting, and holiness. But it was always meant to be a season. Not a lifestyle. During collage I was by all intents and purposes a nazirite. When I left collage I felt very guilty that some of my commitments were not sustainable. This revelation of the nazirite vow being a season and not a lifestyle set me free. And isn't that what Jesus came to do in the first place? [Luke 4:18-19]

In conclusion simply read this scripture "How beautiful upon the mountains, Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" [Isaiah 52:7 NKJV] Holiness, beauty, perfection is loving people. The 3 rules of Jesus are to love God, love people, and love yourself. The most effective method of loving God is to love people and give him the glory for it. Instead of taking a lifelong nazirite vow that separates you from people forever, try vowing to love people.

Comments

Completely agree. Would you agree that this doesn't remove the daily pursuit of holiness though, but your speaking of those times of intentional removal from normal functioning for the purpose of an intensive time of spiritual discipline (nazurite vow)?

True I'm not negating daily pursuit of holiness. But what is holiness?

I truly believe that holiness is the natural result of loving God and loving people. This sounds a bit heretical so for clarity I will state: sin is real. So don't take my comment as saying anything else. I plan to write a post about holiness but the gist is holiness does not mean cutting things out of your life. It does not mean being different. It means being set apart for a purpose, set apart for someone. Christian holiness means cutting out the things that separates you from God, or prevent you from loving people. Sin separates you from God and yes should be cut out. But not because cutting it out makes you holy. Cutting it out removes a wall between you and God. When I swear it releases an anger in me that makes it difficult to focus on Jesus. If in front of people it offends them and makes it difficult to communicate Christ. So it is wrong for me to swear and I should take steps to remove that so I can remove a hindrance in my connection to God and obstacle to loving people. This is a relative example but there are also a few rigid examples. Don not have sex outside of marriage, do not worship other Gods, do not murder. These are not relative nor optional rules.  doing these things is sin and needs to stop. They separate us from God and that's not ok.