We all know that we cannot earn our salvation. That we are all sinners saved solely by God’s grace by receiving Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins, right?
Have you ever been involved in a mercy ministry outreach, or gone on a short-term mission trip? Served hot meals to the homeless in Jesus’ name, or been involved in any other Christian ministry endeavor? I’m sure you have, and when you were done didn’t you feel good? That is a blessing from God because in our obedience: “it is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35) . This is God’s pat on our back and affirmation and blessing given to us when we align with him and look outside ourselves.
But have you ever felt it made you a bit more holy? Have you ever thought: “hey, I served the homeless on Thanksgiving Day while others sat at home watching football”, and then felt you were a little bit more holy than the couch potato skaters who stayed home? Honestly, I have.
One of the places where God clearly tells people to do things for him is making the tabernacle found in Exodus and Leviticus. “Make loops of blue material along the edges of the end of the curtain”, “make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, the base and shaft: it’s flower like cups, buds, and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand – three on one side and three on the other.” And on and on, tables, cups, bowls, the courtyard, the garments of the priests, the altar of incense, anointing oil, etc.
Lots of doing. You kind of wonder if all this made the people feel pretty holy cause they followed God’s instructions and got to make all these godly items, and that the fruit of all this detailed labor set them apart. When we “do things” in God’s name isn’t our tendency to feel it sets us apart? Which after all is the definition of being “holy”, right?
Well, after all the instructions God finally tells Moses to observe “my Sabbaths” in Exodus 31:12. Basically saying take a day off, calling it: “a day of rest holy to the Lord”. It is not doing anything but resting and focusing on God. This comes after all the doing. And he says: “so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy”.
Do we get that? After all the doing, we are to rest, focus on God, and know that he is the one who makes us holy. Not what we do.
All the doing of building the tabernacle and the worship implements was to understand how holy God is, not how holy we are. It was to really understand that he is worthy of worship and honor and respect. And his dwelling place and his worship is not to be taken lightly.
We are New Testament people who are so free. Recipients of loving forgiveness and grace and redemption which comes to us so easily, and I think sometimes we forget that it was not so easy for Jesus. I admit sometimes I forget that Christ paid the price, and that none of my “doing” makes me holy. And sometimes my worship loses the deep sense of giving God the absolute honor he deserves in a reverent way and when I accomplish anything in Christ’s name he alone is to receive the credit.
Let’s all remember what God said: “I am the Lord, who makes you holy”. We are certainly privileged to participate with God in sharing him with the world. But we must remember the one we are serving. He alone makes us holy.