From the most recent teaching in Deuteronomy 12 -13, David reminded us that worshipping God alone matters, and that our worship should be exclusive, joyful and communal. Today he began by asking a question from Deuteronomy 14-16:
What makes Christians different – what’s distinctive about Christian life?
Moses had been instructing the Israelite people how to live in the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 14-16 he was reminding the people who they are, who they belong to, and why they are different.
As followers of Jesus today, you can claim these life-altering truths because you have been adopted into the family of God (1 John 3:1), you are holy and have been set apart for God – a saint (Ephesians 1:1) and chosen to be God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9).
Back to Deuteronomy 14 and, having now clarified the identity of the true people of God, Moses underlines three areas that address how they should live in the light of being different from the other nations around them.
1. Food – dietary laws that tell them what they can and cannot eat
Verses 3-21 list a range of clean and unclean foods, and reasons why they should be eaten or not. However, if we fast-forward to the New Testament, we learn that faith is not about what we eat: it’s a heart issue. Jesus declared all foods clean when he said:
2. Finance – how God’s people should be marked by generosity to God and others
Moses gave instructions about different ways in which the people of God could give generously to others in the community. This principle of giving generously, which also runs through the New Testament, should be a fundamental expression of true Christian worship, so that followers of Jesus excel in the grace of giving: sacrificially, consistently, joyfully and proportionately. This is what characterises Christians as different and distinctive.
3. Festivals – special feasts that they must celebrate each year
Each of these festivals reminded the people of what God had done in rescuing them from slavery, captivity and despair, so that they would never take their freedom for granted.
Whilst there are no commands in the New Testament to celebrate Jewish festivals, the simple act of sharing bread and wine has become a regular centrepiece of church life. Being devoted to the ‘Breaking of Bread’ reminds us of all that God has done for us through His Son Jesus.
What makes Christians different or distinctive is our identity:
• I am a child of God
• I am a saint (holy to the Lord)
• I am a chosen treasured possession
We give generously to God and to others
We eat bread and drink wine on a regular basis, because there is nothing like salvation in Jesus Christ
Are those differences evident in our church life and personal lives?