Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inside out

I came across this passage as I was reading recently.

Leviticus 21:16-23 - 16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 "Say to Aaron: 'For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the offerings made to the LORD by fire. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy. ' "

It sounds as though these priests could have graced the cover of Esquire or GQ magazines and made us men very self conscious of our physical inadequacies. It seems that these guys had to be perfect in appearance and physical qualities just to approach God. I don't know about you but I probably would have been disqualified based on the fact that my left foot is slightly larger than my right. If that in itself were not enough my left leg is slightly longer than my right and I usually have to go to the Dermatologist on a yearly basis to have him look at some spots that hopefully have not become cancerous since my last visit.

Thank God that when Christ came he changed the rules. We do not have to be perfect in appearance and physical stature to approach God. When Christ came He taught just the opposite. Look at what he said to the Pharisees who were trying to approach God based on outward appearance.

Matthew 23: 25-28 25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Way back in I Samuel when God told Samuel that he was going to show him who the next king was going to be Samuel saw Jesse's first son who was apparently tall, dark and handsome but look what God said to Samuel:

I Samuel 16: 7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

In the book of Luke we see how Christ broke down social barriers and reached out to those who may have been rejected because of their appearance or stature. Christ decided to have dinner with a short man, maybe even a dwarf, that was mentioned in Leviticus as being one of the qualities that would disqualify someone who wanted to approach the altar of God.

Luke 19: - 1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

Zacchaeus' was probably familiar with the exclusions in Leveticus and knew there was nothing he could do about the fact that he was vertically challenged. Now, God Himself, in the person of Jesus, is approaching Zacchaeus, and tells him he is going to fellowship with him that day. Christ did not focus on Zacchaeus' physical appearance or his stature, He saw his heart and knew it was ready for a change.

I think we Christians would say that we know God looks at our heart, not at our outward appearance. However, we spend millions upon millions of dollars every year on looking better on the outside. We wash, scrub, lather, buff, moisturize, nip, tuck, wrap, powder, paste, clothe and pose with the hopes that we will look good on the outside. Yet this flies in the face of what Christ told the Pharisees. It is is the exact opposite of what Christ taught through his interaction with Zacchaeus. Just this morning I was helping my youngest daughter get dressed and her shirt was inside out. She handed it to me and said "Inside this out for me daddy." I thought what a great prayer that would be to the Lord. Hand Him our life and say "Inside this out for me daddy."

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