As followers of Jesus, do we look different from the people of the world? Does our lifestyle clearly say that we are a peculiar people? Or when the world looks at us, do they see nothing that says we belong to the King of the Universe? Sadly, I believe the latter is often true.
God told the Israelites (in Leviticus 18:3) “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.”
Paul repeats this same teaching in his letter to the Romans when he writes, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” How do we do this? Paul gives us the answer in his letter to Timothy. He tells him, “Timothy, you’ve been reading the sacred writings since you were a kid. These are what you need to use to teach, reprove, correct and train people in right living. (My paraphrase of 2 Tim 3:15-16.)
What too many people don’t realize is that when Paul wrote his letter to Timothy, there was no ‘New Testament’. That means the sacred writings Paul referred to was the Tanakh – the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.
So, when Christians don’t know Torah – God’s standard of right living – how can we possibly know what we are and are not supposed to do? How can we live lives that cause people to know that we belong to God?
Unfortunately, there has been such a mindset against Torah, coupled with an over emphasis on grace and non-judgment, that many Christians ignore what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts. Instead they chose to believe they can do whatever they want and it is okay with God because He is full of grace and mercy.
However, when you look at Torah as being a set of instructions on how to love God and man, you realize the Torah isfull of mercy and grace, yet it is also full of consequences for wrong action. Why? Because God disciplines those He loves.
And Jesus didn’t change that. He clearly said, “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
When we strive to live our lives lined up with the Word of God – His instructions for right living – then we stand out from the crowd of humanity. When we chose to obey God when He tells us not to live like the people of the world live, not according to their statutes and laws, but according to His statutes and laws, people see a difference in us. And in seeing that difference, they want to know the God who made us different.
Choosing to live by God’s standards found in Torah does not give us salvation. But once saved, should we not strive to be the ‘peculiar people’ God calls us to be?