Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; Psalms 103; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
Nothing that starts out in Leviticus will be easy. No matter how simple it seems. For that reason we tend to stay away from that text. Who wants to do the hard things? We rationalize it by saying, “oh that is the Old Testament.” Yes, it is and it is foundational to the way we live out our Christianity. Here is God, telling the people of God to be holy. It’s not a matter of if God is holy, then we can also be Holy. No, continually remind yourself, God is God and we are not. Because God is holy, then we can also be holy. We can embody the very gift that God bestows on us, God is love. And when we share God’s love with others, then we become the love of God for others.
But the tough part comes when God shares how we are to do that very thing; no revenge, no grudges and love your neighbor. Seriously. In the Matthew text many people misunderstand Jesus’ sayings, “you have heard it said, but I say,” as his diminishing of the Law. No, read again, Jesus is tightening up on the standards. Centuries of interpretation by rabbis had watered down God’s word to the people. Jesus is saying no you have to go beyond what seems natural, what seems like “good business,” you have to become nothing short of a super hero, the perfect embodiment of God’s love.
John Wesley had a phrase that we often misunderstand – Christian perfection. Those of us ordained in Methodism are asked the historic question, “are you going on to perfection?” and “do you hope to attain it in this lifetime?” Wesley was not/is not holding us to being perfect people, but to be perfected in Christ. My doctrine and polity professor explained it best, “to be so filled with the love of God that nothing else remains.”
And that is a thin place.