Time to Purge
On my journey through the Bible I was reading through Deuteronomy this morning. (I know, your heart just skipped a beat at the word Deuteronomy.) Just before crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land, Moses stops and preaches the longest sermon in the history of mankind. He starts with a pretty thorough history of deliverance from slavery in Egypt and life in the desert. Then he just jumps into all the little details of the Law.
I could just hear the people, “Yo Mo, are you serious?!? We’re about to enter the Promised Land. And by the way, we’ve already covered all this in Leviticus.” But off he goes. Law 101, 201, and 301 – all in one sermon.
But there’s a phrase that shows up seven times over ten chapters. About the fifth time I actually started paying attention. The phrase? Purge the evil from your community. (Yes, sometimes “the” is changed to “that,” or “community” is changed to “from among you” but cut me some slack.)
As I saw the context of reading it all at once, I realized that God was saying, Hey, my greatest desire is to be in relationship with you. All these things – idols, sexual immorality, and general “uncleanness” – is keeping us apart. I hate that. I don’t want to be apart. I want to be with you…near you…walking alongside you. So quit pursuing that which separates. Purge evil from your community. And pursue me…in community.
That feels a whole lot different than Do all these nitpicky things just because I said so. When am I going to get it through my thick head that God’s boundaries are meant to build relationship and enhance life – not limit it?
And there’s got to be a full-blown purging of the things that cause us to be separated from God. Not just because He doesn’t want you to have or do those things – but because He does want you to have HIM. There’s a poem by Martha Snell Nicholson that ends with these words: God could not pour His blessings into hands already full.
Too often my hands – and life – are full.