The divine decree, “You will be holy,” is first and foremost
about God coming to dwell within us. Our goodness comes
because God dwells within us and not the other way around.
Paul confirms the thought that God’s holiness takes place
within us. Paul and his companions have built a building on
the foundation of Jesus Christ. They have built a community, a
group of people who live as Christ-followers. Just as the glory
of God dwelt in the Temple in ancient Israel, it now dwells
within us—the Christian community! Our very bodies are temples
of the Holy Spirit. And just as the priests had to keep the
Temple free from contamination, Paul instructs us that we must
do the same with our bodies. It is one thing to say that we do
not have to be morally perfect before God will dwell within us.
It is another thing entirely to say that we can be morally impure
after God comes to dwell within us. The former statement is
true; the latter is false. God’s holiness purifies whatever space it
enters, driving out all that is impure or unholy.
The major takeaway is clear: In affirming God’s presence
within us, we do not neglect our bodies. Christianity is not a
disembodied form of religion. On the contrary, God’s presence
raises the stakes considerably with regard to our bodies.
The care of the community demands that we not deceive
ourselves about our own wisdom, nor do we boast. Both qualities
can destroy the temple of community. “All things are [ours],
. . . all belong to [us], and [we] belong to Christ, and Christ
belongs to God.” We all live within God’s presence.
Holy God, it is a fearful and wonderful thing to know that you dwell within us. Purify our hearts, O God, and help us to be more mindful of our bodies. Amen.
These texts evidence relentless concern with the moral requirements that belong to life with the God of the Bible. They assume the foundation of covenantal law in God’s rescuing acts. That foundation is implicit in undergirding these several treatments of God’s commands. The psalmist is aware that the commands of God constitute a radical counter-obedi- ence. The text from Leviticus brings us to the core claims of cov- enantal law. The rule of the God of Israel leads directly to focus on the neighbor. The neighbor is not just an inconvenience or an intrusion but is the stuff of moral awareness. Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthian Christians state the bold claim that Jesus Christ is the central focus of every Christian’s commitment. The Gospel reading invites the community to reflect on, imagine, and devise extra measures of neighbor love that reflect the character of God.
• Read Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. What would be some signs that you are attaining the holiness God desires?
• Read Psalm 119:33-40. The writer states that “Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to perfect it.” How did/does Jesus do that?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23. Consider how these two statements relate to your life: “We do not have to be morally perfect before God will dwell within us” and “We can be morally impure after God comes to dwell with us.”
• Read Matthew 5:38-48. What instances in your life show that you “reject the call for retaliation or revenge in favor of the higher calling of forgiveness”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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