“Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”

This morning, beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, we hear two very difficult lessons on what it is to be holy…on what it is to be Christ-like.

In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord God Almighty is speaking to Moses, and giving him words and instructions to preach to the people of Israel.

The Lord God is calling His people to holiness. “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”

And, so the Israelites will understand what it means to be holy…what it means to be like God…instructions are given.

{It is always important to give instructions in holiness…you never know who might declare golf to be the highest form of sanctity.}

The instructions the Lord God gives to Israelites are perhaps not what one would have in mind when trying to become holy.

Perhaps one would first think that he should work very hard on interior things…give much contemplation to the spiritual life.

And to aide in this contemplation of the spiritual life…perhaps one would think it necessary to withdraw from others who are not contemplating all things holy.

In a twist of Divine irony…this however is not the instructions that are given to the people of Israel to help them in leading a life patterned in the likeness of God.

In fact, very little attention at all is given to the interior life…very little attention at all is given to the self. Almost all of the attention and instruction dealing with becoming holy is spent on how we treat others…how we deal with others…how we interact with others…that we must interact with others.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

The Israelites are instructed to take care of the poorest among them…are instructed to grow grain and labor to the end that the stranger and sojourner will have food. They are called to labor and give for the least among them.

“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

They are to be honest with God, with themselves and be courteous, kind, and generous to others.

To the point- they are to see God’s image in others…and treat them as they would treat God Himself. ‘You shall fear your God’…if they mistreat another human being, they mistreat God and fall short of the holiness to which they are called.

In the Gospel for this morning, Our Lord Jesus Christ takes this idea further. In fact, Jesus radicalizes this idea of holiness.

While, in the record of the Old Testament, there were provisions for human justice…such as courts of law, self-defense, and the ability to separate ones self from those who seek to do harm…there is not with Jesus.

Our Lord calls us to perfection: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We are called to perfection. Jesus calls His followers to the ultimate extreme of God-like behavior.

“But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”

In this words, we see something of the mercy of God. We see something of the love of God…we see something of the compassion and forgiveness of God.

We are called not only to holiness…but to perfection. We are called to employ the exact and equal mercy, love and forgiveness to others that God employs with us.

God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for us is endless and without bottom. No matter how many times we forsake Him…no matter how many times we steal from Him…seek to hurt or wrong Him…He forgives and loves.

If we ask for his coat, as it were, He gives us His cloak as well.

What God the Father gives freely, Jesus, the Son of God asks of those who follow Him.

And this, my brothers and sisters, is a difficult thing…it is a scary thing…we are called to treat others in the same way we are treated by God Almighty.

A complete and total sacrifice of self…a complete outpouring of love…a complete showing of mercy…and a complete forgiveness for offenses.

The calling of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a high holy calling…it is a calling to become like God…

This morning beloved, we will baptize Owen Nail into Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Owen will be offered to God, go down into the waters, die with Christ and be raised to new life, Owen will become a new creation, Owen will be saved and join the eternal society of Jesus Christ.
And with all of these things, Owen will be called, as we are all called, to perfection. Owen will be called to live into the full stature of Christ.

We, too, vow to do all in our power, both by our prayers and our witness, to help young Owen live into this stature.

Which of course means, that we will continue to work towards this highest of callings. It means that we ourselves vow to continue to work towards perfection in Jesus Christ.

My brother and sisters, when we contemplate changing and amending our lives…when we try to become better people…when we seek to become better Christians…we must first and foremost look outside ourselves.

We must look at what we give to God in worship.

We must look at what we give to God in our time and talent.

We must look at how we treat and interact with others.

We must constantly ask ourselves are we treating others as God treats us? Do we see the image and likeness of God in others?

Do we show to others the same love, mercy and forgiveness that God shows to us?

On this day Owen nail is called to holiness…is called to perfection…on this day we are reminded of our own call to perfection.

Let us then vow anew that we will strive to be perfect…and that we will strive to help one another obtain this perfection by our prayers and by our witness.

Let us be holy…for the Lord our God is Holy…

Let us therefore be perfect…as our heavenly father is perfect.

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