In chapter 17 of our favorite book of the Bible, Leviticus, there is a long, detailed explanation/instruction dealing with how we are to handle blood. It’s long, detailed passages like this that give us problems with the Bible and, more specifically, Leviticus. So if we haven’t already skipped over Leviticus, like normal people, we’ll certainly skip over this passage. What does a long, detailed section on blood have to do with us, here, now, today?
We’re talking about it today, here, not because I particularly care about blood (as long as it stays on the inside), but maybe this long, detailed section has to do with much more than blood. (Just for knowing, the next 2 paragraphs owe in no small way to Rob Bell.)
First, blood was a way (a BIG way) to talk about life. Usually, if we had your blood on the inside, and not on the ground, you were alive. If not, you weren’t. So any talk about blood was really about life. The other understanding we would have, as readers of the Scriptures is that life is a sacred gift, not a random, senseless occurrence.
Leviticus is about living in a wholly intentional fashion, and Chapter 17 is no different. The blood is a vehicle to heighten our sensitivities to life & death. The people of the time – the people of any time – had a tendency to adopt a pretty cavalier attitude toward life. They/we take it too easily, willingly, as if it is theirs/ours to take. Leviticus is a proclamation, an absolutely revolutionary proclamation, that everything doesn’t exist for our mindless, unreflective consumption.
Maybe chapter 17 isn’t necessarily about blood at all. Maybe it’s about our relationship with each other, with our world, with all things. Chapter 18 is about sex, and there is an absolutely revolutionary proclamation there, too. In fact, it’s the same proclamation: Everything doesn’t exist for our mindless, unreflective consumption. So much of the Law concerns food, and our relationship with it, and includes an absolutely revolutionary proclamation, as well.
Life isn’t only about blood and breath, right? It’s relationships, sex, food, joy, mourning, brushing our teeth, music, pain, exercise, making tacos, laughter, art – and it’s all sacred. And we have a tendency to adopt a pretty cavalier attitude towards all of it.
This COVID-19 disruption in our lives is severe, unexpected, and has shown us just how much of our daily lives have been woefully taken for granted, how much has been mindless and unreflective. I miss my gym and the people there, especially my buddy Rick, and when I look back it’s shocking how little I appreciated my time there. I miss the hands I held and people I squeezed so deeply. I miss seeing people’s smiles at the grocery store. Small things, sure, but it’s the small things that create the texture for a life well lived. Like praying for another with a warm hand on a shoulder. Like the energy of a basketball game. Like a terrific meal in a crowded restaurant. Like breakfast together. Like a birthday party (or 2).
I think the Bible is the way it is because God knew us better than we know ourselves, knew that we would forget, knew that we would reduce each of these glorious blessings to tools, would reduce ourselves to consumers.
Hopefully, this reset is a gigantic reminder and when it’s over (and it will be over), we will take a bit more time to soak in the beauty of life. All of it. Hopefully, our time of mindlessness is already over and when we get to squeeze each other again (and we will get to squeeze each other again), we’ll squeeze each other with overwhelming gratitude for the God that made you, me, and the squeezing.