Working Out Our Salvation With Fear And Trembling

Leviticus 19.2.. Say to the community of Israel, ‘Be holy, because I, the Lord your God am holy. The same words are echoed in Leviticus 11.45, 20.26, 21.6, 21.15, 22.32. God has and will always call us to be holy; to have moral integrity, to be free from sin and be sanctified. Peter echoed these same words in 1Peter 1.15 Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy.

In Numbers 6:9-12 is a statement that shows the seriousness with which God treats holiness. The context of the verse is the rules and regulations that governed one who chose to dedicate their lives as a Nazarite; though some were appointed by God like Samson. One was not to defile themselves by consuming grapes and the products thereof. Secondly they were not to go near a corpse no matter who the dead individual was to them. Lastly they were not to shave their hair whatsoever. As long as they were a Nazarite, they were consecrated to God.

Perchance they fell short of the three requirements above, especially first and second, they were unclean and had to undergo cleansing which was inclusive of SHAVING THEIR HAIR, bring sin offering, a burnt offering. That is not all. The individual will reconsecrate their head and rededicate their time as Nazarite and the previous period of time does not count (the already served term)because the consecrated hair was defiled. This means if the individual was to serve for ten years and gets defiled at ninth year, they will start afresh and will end up serving for nineteen years instead of ten. That was the cost of defilement whether intentionally or unintentionally.

In Philippians 2.12 we are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The call here, similar to that made to the Nazarites, is to be careful, cautious, keen, be on guard and watch the way we live our lives. It is a call to examine our lives and the way we live it. Socrates’ words resonate with this: unexamined life is not worth living. Having been determined to build a house, Jesus illustrates, one must count the cost to completion for you do not want to quit midway. You seek to get the building to completion. He, Jesus, stated in Mathew 6.24 that whosoever want to go with him must deny themselves, carry their cross and follow him. This was the call to that of the Nazarites too, that it was worth evaluating, laying down plans, scheming out what to do, where to be at any particular moment and how to execute whatever they wanted to to avoid being unclean.

Does that then imply that our walk with Christ Jesus is cut short the moment we tumble down as it happened to Nazarites? Of course not. However, we must choose to remain on course. In Mathew 3.8 we are called to produce fruit worth the repentance. We are not perfect but we must choose to remain on the vine (Jesus Christ) if we are to bear fruit (John 15.1-8) as the branches. This then means that like the Nazarites we must be consecrated, not by shaving our hair, but by repentance. We no longer have to offer bulls, doves, lambs for our atonement. 1 John 1.9 … But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our sins (wrongdoing). That means that if we at any moment fall off his glory, Romans 3.23-24, God has established a mechanism through which we can amend our ways. The caution thereby is that we should not abuse grace simply because it has been availed to us. Additionally, it does not translate that because we live in the fallen and sinful world we have to let sin live in us. Simply because we will be forgiven does not mean we take a swim to where sin is or into it.

Just like the olden days, being a Nazarite was a sacrificial manner of servanthood. Chritianity, life in and after Christ Jesus, is a personal commitment. Noone is born a Christian, it is a choice one makes. And at that particular moment, you are consecrated to him. Contrary to their term of service which was time bound as per the willingness of the individual, God expects Christians to hold on until the last day when he calls us home or he returns. It is an eternal calling. It is an everlasting vow of choosing to entrust one’s life to Christ by letting him into our heart. Upon completion of term of service, the Nazarite was walked out in a sacrifice and ritual/ceremony. Contrary to that, in Christianity, one is walked into eternal life the moment they come to Christ and ultimately they will not be walked out but will be walked into the kingdom of the Glory of God (John3.16,6.40, Romans 5.21, 1 John 5.13, Mathew 25.46). In this then, we must stand and be keen the way we live for we do not want to run the race then fail to get crowned for we pulled out of the race by living lives that were out of order (1Corinthians 9.25).

The Call To Justice

Amongst the instructions that God gave to the Israelites was on how to live with each other in harmony. Narrowing to this was the aspect of justice. In Leviticus 19:15 he said …you shall not do unrighteousness in judgement: thou shall not respect the poor , nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness thou shall you judge your neighbour. He, God is not a respecter of persons. He is concerned with all. The race, social strata, gender etc are not a consideration to him. All are equal before him (Genesis 1:27,31). 

In Leviticus 19:18 he said…do not take revenge on anyone or continue to hate him(who has wronged you), but love your neighbour as you love yourself (Mathew 22.39). This would be out of the recognition that there is a system through which differences are settled – like the  judicial system.

Is this the reality in our land Kenya? Is justice applied on a leveled ground as it ought to be? Our kenyan national anthem has the statement…justice be our shield and defender that we may dwell in unity… This is what may be termed as empty words, beautifully and systematically composed and scribed. Justice is nowadays traded based on the muscles that one has.

In the informal systems, the poor may experience favour due to their lowly position which is a fault to the law of God. However, the most popular scenario is that the rich and wealth have power to influence the course of justice over the poor. They have a way of calling the tune having paid the piper. Bribery and corruption is rampant and year after year it moves from bad to worse. Perversion, delay, denial and false justice is part of the daily deliverables in our judicial system. It is the case of purchased justice.

But who then is your neighbor? Jesus declared that our neighbours are whoever that is near you (Luke 10.29-37). Whether they be strangers to you, rich or poor, different tribes, different gender, different family, etc , they deserve to be treated with justice and love.

The system in which justice is awarded is full of unfairness. With the sentences, fines, bails, etc awarded, the quantity of the deliverables lets out a sigh of pain. There seems to be a judgement scale for the rich men to that of poor men. If the national anthem words are to be realized, if unity is to be a reality then justice has to be the dipstick. Justice has to be implemented in resource allocation, treatment before the law, policy formulation, rules and regulations implementation, etc. The call to justice is for ALL irrespective of the level on the ladder the individual is and and who they are.