Reading Leviticus always reminds me just how much we were released from through the sacrifice of Christ. All the rules and regulations. The clean and unclean. The minute details that ruled their lives. But my most recent read through Leviticus 21 took that thought even further.
Leviticus 21:17-23 details which Levites of Aaron’s descendants were not permitted to offer sacrifices. Essentially, these men were priests without a job. There was no other function they could perform in life, but they were also not permitted to fulfill the purpose for which they were born. The real kicker here is that they were not in this situation by choice. If you scroll over the Scripture reference above and read the passage, you will see that these men were excluded from service based primarily on health issues beyond their control. Exclusion from service due to things like blindness, disfigurements, skin issues, and broken bones. Perfection was required to stand before God and offer sacrifices.
Unlike the Israelites, we have no restrictions on our service to the Lord. We are not limited by birth – we do not have to be of a certain tribe traced back to one specific ancestor. Every last one of us can trace back to God as our Father “simply” because the sacrifice of Christ has made us adopted children.
There is no restriction based on gender. Although certain denominations – mine included – do hold that women should not be pastors, we are not truly restricted from ministry. The opportunities that lie before us are so expansive that not leading a church should be no barrier at all.
Finally, there is no restriction based on physical capabilities. I have seen some of the most profound ministry resonate from those who seem totally incapacitated. People who are, for whatever reason, restricted from all physical movement have still succeeded in mightily moving the kingdom of God. People who have no physical vision have revealed a spiritual vision which far exceeds that of the rest of us. The examples are endless.
So, if the restrictions of the Old Testament have been so incredibly removed thanks to the sacrifice of our perfect Savior, why do we see so few of God’s children living lives of ministry? Because we disqualify ourselves! We assume attitudes of inadequacy. We spiritually maim ourselves by our own choices and our sin. We bind ourselves so profoundly to limitless obligations that we leave no resources for true ministry.
1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we, as believers in Christ, are a royal priesthood. Because of our salvation in Christ, we have the freedom to come before the throne of God directly just as the physically “perfect” Levites from Aaron’s descendants did. But, we have the freedom to come before the throne whenever we so choose, with none of the limitations Old Testament priests had.
There is a furtherance to all of this, however. Aaron’s descendants didn’t have a choice but to serve. It was their place in life, and to refuse to minister and serve was to deny their birthright. How much more do we deny our place in the family of God when we refuse to live every day as ministers of the gospel?
We have a full freedom to serve before the throne of God. No limitations apart from our own disobedience and refusal to serve. But we also have the responsibility to serve. Each one of us is a part of the priesthood that serves before the throne of God. Let us rise us and fulfill our responsibilities! Let us not deny our place as adopted children of God by refusing to serve!