If you have ever lived with me, you know I run a pretty well-oiled operation. I have very high standards for keeping my space very clean, devoid of clutter, and smelling nice and fresh. I don’t expect anything less than the best, and if that deters people away from me, I’ve come to not mind.
Despite my high standards for my living space, I’m still human. That means when it comes to spiritual purity and keeping my spiritual life as clean as possible, I’m not as stringent as I probably should be. I make frequent mistakes, let my mind run rampant with whatever thoughts pop up, and speak words that I know are against my and God’s better judgment.
The latest Bible book I’ve finished reading is Leviticus, infamously known for its harsh stances on everything from homosexuality, prostitution, tattoos, and not eating blood. We aren’t vampires, after all…
Backdrop of Leviticus.
For as much criticism we give Leviticus and how outdated its messages are, there is a common thread through it that we can still learn from and apply to our spiritual lives. That idea is how to become clean in God’s eyes and fit His expectations as His people and followers.
In the beginnings of the Old Testament, Moses leading off the Israelites to find and create a new homeland, people didn’t have much of a moral groundwork to start from. God then commanded Moses a chapter’s worth of rules and standards to uphold that would distinguish the Israelites from the common people.
These rules, such as seeking out equal revenge for any losses (eye for an eye), or stoning people to death for marrying as a widow/widower weren’t too crazy. In fact, adhering to all of God’s rules was their way of outright cleanliness and spiritual purity. Although not directly quoted from the Bible, it’d be accurate to say that especially in Christianity’s earliest beginnings, cleanliness is next to godliness.
How to become “clean.”
Leviticus and other early Old Testament books detail the proper way for people to sacrifice animals to God and cleanse themselves properly to stay spiritually pure and reenter the community if there were to become unclean. Not only were you following the Ten Commandments and Mosaic Law exactly as Moses interpreted them from God, but you were also keeping your space clean and your body completely clean. If you’re on your period, or you touch something you shouldn’t have, or you develop an abnormal skin condition, you’d be sent away until you were clean again.
So we can’t exactly help if we have uteruses or imperfect bodies. What we can help is if we go against our morals and sin. Since it’s inevitable, we must regularly make animal sacrifices and cast off a scapegoat to cleanse away the sins we wish to repent. Doing so allows us the spiritual purity we need to start anew in God’s ways and receive forgiveness, even when we don’t deserve it.
New way to clean.
That obsession with cleanliness and spiritual purity doesn’t dissipate as a Christian; it simply takes on a new form.
What better time of year to reflect upon spiritual purity than the Lenten season? With the important days we’re leading up to comes a revolutionary new concept: not having to follow Leviticus to be clean. It’s way more convenient not to be washing ourselves constantly, but society has progressed to not label everything against the grain as sinful. (Homosexuality is not sinful. Love is love.)
When Jesus faced His purpose, the terrifying act of crucifixion, He did so as the last blood sacrifice humanity would ever need. No more scapegoats. No more shunning and stoning. No more shame in our own nature.
Three days later, He rises from the dead. He returns to life on earth to speak on His own behalf, to testify on what this miracle represents for us. By becoming our sacrificial lamb, He has relieved us of the need to constantly worry about our spiritual purity. He has ensured that as long as we are faithful to Him, we no longer must expect ourselves to fit high standards that, as humans, are virtually impossible to uphold.
Maybe we’re a little rough around the edges. Who isn’t? Even the most holy-seeming of people fall to their own devices and temptations. But that doesn’t mean we have to be cast out from the community anymore, or looked upon as “less than.” We are now enough. We are loved. We are accepted into God’s arms as we are. We are given grace and mercy.
Don’t get too hung up on not being a perfect Christian because they don’t exist, and neither does a perfect person in general. We can have the nicest-looking social media profiles, the longest list of achievements on our resumes, the largest friend group, and even then, we as mere humans aren’t the best.
Everyone is on an equal ground, all having opportunities to choose right and wrong, going down paths of strength and weakness. I for one and am beyond grateful to not live in the time of the Israelites because the pressure they must have felt in every word and action, ensuring its cleanliness, would take immense discipline. Instead, I can turn to the Holy Father and Son for guidance. They will take me as I am, and through Them I can be cleansed.
Spiritual purity isn’t something we need to strive perfectly for like we would cleaning our homes or switching conventional cosmetics for green beauty alternatives (as we’ve been doing all this week in the past two posts!) but is instead already within our grasp. How blessed are we?! Through the new lens Jesus provides, we can then turn to Leviticus during Lent with a new appreciation for all of God’s promises and a new obligation not to be clean all the time, but to be faithful all the time.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie