Tuesday, February 12

Don’t be squeezed into the mold

Scripture: Leviticus 18-19, Psalm 13, Acts 19

Leviticus 18:3–4 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.

Observation

These verses introduce two chapters of moral laws that God expected Israel to keep.  

Israel was to be different.  They were not to be like Egypt or Canaan.  They were not to follow the practices of the nations where they lived, but were to follow the Lord and His decrees.  They were to be God’s people.

This proved to be difficult.  Israel continually slid into the practices of the nations around them.  They repeatedly abandoned God and His standards and were conformed to the standards of surrounding cultures.

Application

Christians have the same call: to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:11-17); to not be conformed to the world, but transformed by God (Romans 12:1-2); to live as exiles and foreigners in the world (1 Peter 1:1, 2:11) and as citizens of the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20); to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  

I love J.B. Philips translation of Romans 12:2.

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.

In every nation, in every culture, Christians are to stand out, to be different (holy), set apart for God.  Like the Israelites before us, we find this difficult.  It’s very easy to be conformed, to be squeezed into the mold of our culture.  

Our next sermon series, “RESIST”, will consider this issue by looking at 5 stories from the book of Daniel.  Daniel and his 3 friends were Jewish exiles in Babylon who refused to conform, but maintained their faith in the face of life-threatening pressure from Babylon.  

When you start thinking in these terms, you see it all over the Bible.  In Sunday’s reading in Acts 17, Paul is accused of preaching a seditious message, “saying that there is another king, Jesus.”  Caesar brooked no rivals.  But while the Christians were not preaching sedition against Caesar, they also knew that Caesar wasn’t the ultimate King.  Jesus is Lord!  And when forced to say, “Caesar is Lord,” they refused at great personal cost, and instead confessed that Jesus is Lord.  They refused to be squeezed into the mold of their culture. 

The moral laws of Leviticus 18-19 most likely were very contrary to the cultures of Egypt and Canaan.  Chapter 18 is all about sexual morals—don’t be squeezed into the world’s mold—be different.  Chapter 19 included laws about idolatry, injustice, fair treatment of friends and foreigners, and a host of other behaviors in which they were to be very different from surrounding cultures.

Prayer: Lord, show us when, where and how to resist!  Show us where we’re being squeezed into our culture’s mold, where we need to be stand up and be different.  Empower us to live for Jesus.