Skip to main content

Easy Peace, the Tooth Fairy, and Leviticus 3

There are certain things that people want to believe in, no matter what the reality is. Often it’s because we have been raised with those beliefs, while other times it because we need those beliefs to cope with a world that is radically out-of-control. Rationality does not come into play—we want to believe some of these things whether or not we can find any support of the idea.

Some of these things are fairly innocuous: a belief in the Tooth Fairy does not do a kid much harm. Provided you couch it in the proper idea of fairy tales and imagination, it can actually be a great deal of fun, although those teeth are getting expensive.

There are other things that you can believe in, even if they are beyond possible. For a time, it’s good to encourage your children to think they might be professional musicians or athletes, until a realistic look at their abilities points out that skipping math class to sing karaoke would be highly unwise. Reality is a harsh teacher, and it’s better to ease someone towards it than to slam them into it. If you can. Even so, it’s okay to let someone live with that dream, that “Well, there was this one time I thought I had a chance….” After all, if not for that one bad night, I could have been a professional saxophone player. Right? Right.

However, there are some things that it is just never a good thing to believe in. It’s no good to believe you can fly and try practicing it from your 4th floor bedroom window. It’s not a good thing to believe your blood has super-duper clotting factors and cut your arteries to prove it. It’s not good to “believe” the safety’s on or the gun isn’t loaded---all of these are fatal things to believe, no matter how “sincere” your belief may be.

Leviticus 3 (link) gives us something else that we should be wary of believing in: easy peace. Easy peace is the notion we get in our heads that everything will be alright between all of us if we just decide to get along with each other. It's the idea that wrongs can be overlooked without any consideration for the harm done between people.

Easy peace is nonsense, and nonsense worse than any winged dental agent or rabbit-like candy deliverer. Leviticus 3 gives us some insight into the idea and how it's a non-starter. This chapter recounts for us the idea of a peace offering. Some translations use the term fellowship offering but the concept is the same: this is a sacrifice made in the intention of restoring a botched relationship. 

It is the primary offering in which the person making the sacrifice is allowed to eat part of the sacrifice: the sin offering and the burnt offerings were alloted only to the priests and God Almighty, but the worshiper is free to join in the peace offering. 

The centerpiece to this offering is the idea of restored fellowship between a person and God. This offering recognizes that even if guilt is atoned for, that does not make a relationship at peace (or in right fellowship). It only means that there are no negatives between the two parties.

However, who among us really wants to life with the statement "there are no negatives between these two"? Sure, there are people with whom that's good enough. If there are no negatives between myself and the water company, then we're good. But what relationship do I have with my wife if it's summarized by the phrase "no negatives?"

That's no place to be for the relationship between people or between a person and God. Our hearts cry out for a right relationship among parties, a place where there is positive flow between the two. Not simply a lack of negative, but a real exchange. Even if the relationship is between a greater, God, and a lesser, people.

Our problem is that we want this to happen easily. We want to be at peace without any substantial effort, especially if we are the ones who disrupted the relationship in the first place. We want the correction of wrongs to be enough. After that, it should all be okay.

Or we want to believe that, having never done anything wrong, everyone will have a great relationship with us. That if we simply avoid offense, there will always be peaceful fellowship.

It's just not the case. Peace always has a cost. Effort is always required for fellowship.

Kidneys and entrails and draining blood were the cost in those times. In our times, the costs are openness, honesty, and compassion between people and contrition, repentance, and faith between people and God--Jesus paid the blood price necessary for peace between people and God.

These are the costs, whether we like them or not. True, we could live without paying these costs, but we end up missing something that truly matters. We end up isolated, lonely and alone, and without hope. Do we want to live that way?

Today's Not-Quite-Nerdy Note: There is also a price to pay for peace between nation-states. That price is often also paid in blood. It is either paid in the blood of soldiers who stand, fight, and die for the protection of the nation behind them, or it is paid in the blood of the nation as they are conquered. There is no "middle-ground" whereby nation-states at odds with each other simply fluff it out and get over it.

It is valid that in times past, two warring tribes could simply avoid each other rather than make peace, but that ship has sailed. It is not possible to live at pure peace with everyone, for human nature is divisive at its core. However, we must realize that no easy peace comes between free people and tyrants---we either stand and fight the tyrants, at the cost of our blood, or we bow and let the tyrants conquer us, at the cost of our children's blood. Which will it be?


Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Put Down That Tablet! Exodus 35

Moses assembles the people of Israel at Sinai one last time before they set out into the wilderness, headed for the Promised Land. He gives them a reminder of some portions of the commands of God and emphasizes the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35 link).He also gives the one Biblical mention of tablet-type mobile devices in Exodus 35:3, where the command is given not to use your Kindle Fire on the Sabbath Day. Some of you just groaned. Some of you skipped the one-liner, and others just missed it. I’ll address you all in turn, but first let us address the person who thought this might be the hidden meaning of that command. After all, we are so easily distracted from our worship and commitment by all of the digital noise around us, why would we not take this text in this manner?The quite simple answer is: because it is not about digital devices. In total, the command to focus the day on Yahweh, Covenant God of Israel and all of Creation, and if your device subtracts from your f…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…