Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
I live in a culture where individuality is often considered the single most important goal. We have been called a society of radical individualists. “Take care of number 1” and “Love yourself first” are common mantras. Yet we are conflicted about this. Millions of people follow the same sports teams, are dedicated to the same types of entertainment, listen to the same music, and hang out with people who dress much as they themselves do. In our individualism we also try to be just like those we admire.
In Leviticus 18, God tells the people of Israel that they are not to be like the Egyptians, whom they have just left, nor like the Canaanites, where they are going. They are instead to be a people set apart for God as He has revealed himself. To make this a little easier, God gives them some certain rules which will make them different, rules which, as we read them carefully, mostly have to do with caring for the poor. Rather than leaving the poor and needy to founder, Israel was to leave something behind so that the industrious poor could take care of themselves. Israel was also to treat employees with integrity and value honesty. I note again that this is different from the larger cultures. We who have lived in the remains of Western Civilization usually value honesty, integrity, and charity. We rarely remember that these are values which, when introduced, were radically different from the values of the cultures where Judaism and later Christianity arose. These are distinctives of a biblical faith.
What are the implications in our current Western society? First, Christians can recognize that these distinctives were note practiced merely to be different, but to work for the good of the community. We can also find ways to care for our society, even while we recognize that some of those ways are already a part of the larger society. Some of the Christian distinctives we have, and certainly the reasoning behind them, will be different. Those will stand out in an increasingly post-Christian environment. As we read in Galatians 6:23, there are no laws against doing good and being kind and gentle with others.
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