“. . . do not yield to him or listen to him . . .” (13:8).
Three times in Deuteronomy 13, Moses warned against those who follow after other gods. Whether they were flashy false prophets, familiar family members, or fellows from neighboring towns, the people of God were to distance themselves from any and all who might suggest such a thing. Exclusive and complete devotion to Him was serious business!
“Do not eat . . .” (14:3).
Chapter 14 points out that their separation from the pagan-worshiping world around them was to be so pronounced that even their diet was impacted. Animals and insects that others ate freely or as part of their pagan practices had no part in the lives the Israelites. He wanted to prevent them from being lured into idolatrous practices.
God’s people were to be set apart to Him alone.
“Get up, Peter. Kill and eat” (Acts 10:13).
Centuries later, Peter heard those words three times. The two simple sentences were associated with a vision of unclean animals that God had shown him. Suddenly, it seemed God was granting freedom to His people in the Church. Animals once declared off-limits were now viable options for tonight’s dinner.
But the repercussions of that vision did more than give us permission to eat a pulled pork sandwich. The implications clarify for us both the separated life and the on-mission life.
The on-mission life seeks contact. Rather than distancing ourselves in an inordinate, insulating fear of being influenced by those who don’t know Christ, we are to come alongside of them as we seek to influence them for Christ.
The separated life pursues holiness. God’s call to a holy, separated lifestyle has not changed. He still invites us to “be holy, because (He is) holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). He still commands us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).
Here are two important questions for all of us to ask ourselves: Am I leading an “on-mission” life? Am I leading a “separated” life? Is my commitment to contact interfering with my holiness? In a pursuit of holiness, am I out of touch with people?