Being Before Doing

In today’s taste of Torah we see Yahweh choosing before instructing. Numbers 3:5 – 9 reads; 5 The Lord spoke to Moses: 6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. 7 They are to perform duties for him and the entire community before the tent of meeting by attending to the service of the tabernacle. 8 They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting and perform duties for the Israelites by attending to the service of the tabernacle. 9 Assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they have been assigned exclusively to him from the Israelites.”

When God outlined His plan for worship at Mount Sinai, He chose the tribe of Levi to exclusively focus their energies on helping the Israelites worship appropriately. God exempted the Levites from military confrontation with Israel’s enemies. He did this because He chose the whole tribe to assist the priests, (which consisted of Aaron’s family within the tribe of Levi), in the service of the sanctuary. During the wilderness wanderings, the Levites carried the tabernacle and its furnishings (Num. 1:47-54). They also guarded this sanctuary (1 Chron. 9:19), taught the Israelites the Law (Deut. 33:8-11; Neh. 8:7-9), and led them in worshipping the Lord (2 Chron. 29:28-32).

Now following His choice of the Levites to serve in those specific capacities, God then proceeded to instruct the priests and Levites how to conduct their lives (cf. Num. chs. 5-9). And that instruction was intended to facilitate genuine authenticity because now it was clear what the righteous alignment between character and conduct needed to look like.

This issue of authenticity is critical if we are to have any hope of positively impacting people born between 1980 and 2000 collectively known by demographers and sociologists as Millennials. The defining events of Millennials have been the 9/11 attack and large scale mass shootings. Emerging technologies have made their preferred means of communication texting and social networking.  Millennials tend to have a low regard for most authority structures, seeking opportunities to collaborate. They are often distrustful of organized chains of command; and therefore are motivated by authenticity rather than authority. In other words they gravitate to people who appear to be authentically practicing their personal faith. They’re drawn to people who are able to open their Bible and explain their worldview; pointing to the reasons for their convictions and actions.

Here’s the deal: Despite whatever dreams and goals we never realized, we have processed enough life to significantly bless and mentor somebody who has processed less. It seems to me that this kind of big picture perspective helps us avoid despair over what might have been, and live in the land of what is for the glory of God. Specifically, we can tell Millennials we’ve learned that the comparison game is dead in the water because it measures the wrong thing. It makes the reference point of evaluation fellow sin corrupted human beings for whom Messiah died rather than Messiah Himself. It focuses on the physical appearance, monetary wealth, intelligence, and accomplishments of both redeemed and unredeemed individuals instead of the character traits of the Redeemer. Its ladder is leaning against the wall of imagined personal self-fulfillment instead of the wall of integrity before God and enjoyment of God.

The point is, all of us this, and more, is what we could call Menschkeit 101. It’s having real deal appeal. It’s living in community with some degree of meaningful accountability. It’s a new level of maturity because there’s no longer an underlying insecurity  that produces jealousy, resentment, emotional volatility, and a hyper-critical spirit. It’s demonstrating in real time/real life that it’s possible to live in the moment with genuine contentment. In short, it’s being before doing.

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