Different – Distinctive

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?

"YOU ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE LORD YOUR GOD … YOU ARE A PEOPLE HOLY TO THE LORD YOUR GOD … HIS TREASURED POSSESSION."

Deuteronomy 14:1-2

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.

"BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT."

1 Peter 2:9

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

"DO NOT EAT ANY DETESTABLE THING."

Deuteronomy 14:3

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:

"NOTHING OUTSIDE A PERSON CAN DEFILE THEM BY GOING INTO THEM. RATHER, IT’S WHAT COMES OUT OF A PERSON THAT DEFILES THEM."

Mark 7:16

2. Finance – how God’s people should be marked by generosity to God and others

"BE SURE TO SET ASIDE A TENTH OF ALL THAT YOUR FIELDS PRODUCE EACH YEAR."

Deuteronomy 14:22

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

"THREE TIMES A YEAR ALL YOUR MEN MUST APPEAR BEFORE THE LORD YOUR GOD AT THE PLACE HE WILL CHOOSE: AT THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, THE FESTIVAL OF WEEKS AND THE FESTIVAL OF TABERNACLES."

Deuteronomy16:16

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.

"AND HE TOOK BREAD, GAVE THANKS AND BROKE IT, AND GAVE IT TO THEM, SAYING, ‘THIS IS MY BODY GIVEN FOR YOU; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.’ IN THE SAME WAY, AFTER THE SUPPER HE TOOK THE CUP, SAYING, ‘THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD, WHICH IS POURED OUT FOR YOU.’"

Luke 22:19-20

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?

Patrick Davidson

Patrick Davidson

I’m Patrick and I oversee one of the small groups at Windsor. I work in a sixth form centre, and volunteer with CAP and The Dock café. Prior to this I worked as a project manager in the voluntary sector, a learning mentor, and in church planting. At home I enjoy DIY and cooking.
Patrick Davidson
I’m Patrick and I oversee one of the small groups at Windsor. I work in a sixth form centre, and volunteer with CAP and The Dock café. Prior to this I worked as a project manager in the voluntary sector, a learning mentor, and in church planting. At home I enjoy DIY and cooking.