Christianity Today has an article about one American church’s experiment to live out Leviticus today. Leviticus is a book that most of us love to ignore, as it contains lots of detailed descriptions of rituals and, in our modern ears, lots or arcane rules that have been superseded by Jesus. This group of Christians was not going to live out Leviticus literally, they were allowed to interpret it with regard to the New Testament and to modern practices, but they had to take it seriously. The task of interpretation had to be done, asking the hard questions of how to apply it today, rather than simply ignore this often-ignored book.
One participant said this:
Among the many lessons from the month, rising to the top was the realization of how much we take God’s grace for granted. Because holiness can be difficult, we default to simply admitting we’re miserable sinners, get our grace, and then get on with living our lives the way we were going to live them anyway. As one participant put it, “I never before realized just how good I am at detaching God from my day-to-day life.“
The result was that the church got genuinely excited about Leviticus, not just those who were doing the challenge, but those who were watching. They started to understand grace properly – not just in the sense that they realised how difficult it was to keep to the laws of Leviticus, but they genuinely experienced grace. After the day of atonement ritual (in which they confessed their sins) there was a real sense of grace and freedom and forgiveness from the participants.
I am currently reading through Leviticus as part of my daily Bible reading, and I confess, I was struggling with it – finding it dry. Perhaps now I will spend more time over interpreting it afresh for our culture and working out how to put its principles into practice.