Where do people get the idea that ministry is about position or prestige? That having Lear jets and million dollar homes is a sign of spiritual success? That prosperity is primarily material? That when we do it right, it's clean and easy?
And why do I find this passage so convicting?
Before reading Leviticus 1 this morning I prayed for an application. I expected to struggle with it, but God hit me square between the eyes with the obvious - something I've overlooked many times. The priests had a messy job.
And then He reminded me that under the New Covenant, I am a priest. And so are you, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.
So why do I expect my priestly ministry to be anything less than messy? Why do I get frustrated with my valiant effort to serve doesn't go smoothly ... when there is warfare ... when the path of service requires me to get my hands dirty? Why do I get frustrated when I have to play an organizational role that belonged to someone else - when I am there to serve anyway? Why do thoughts of the benefits that might come from service cross my mind?
Speaking to King's College in 1944, C.S. Lewis encouraged students to shun "the Inner Ring" - that place of being "in the know", accepted, elite, above others. We don't like to admit that there is an "Inner Ring" in Christianity as well ... even within our churches. Among the many reasons to shun any "Inner Ring" is that the minute we look at ourselves as "special", we lose something of the mindset of service.
The priests could have been considered an "Inner Ring". But Scripture places on them more of a burden, a responsibility. And should they ever begin to think too highly of themselves, the blood splashed all over them, the messy entrails of the sacrifices, and the next bird's head to pinch off would be vivid returns to reality. They were chosen all right - chosen for messy service.
And so are we. Messy service means that God reserves the right to rearrange my schedule. It means that He can turn my life upside down. It might mean that He sends someone to my home that requires me to adapt my lifestyle. It might mean a special needs child, an ill parent, or a rebellious teenager takes priority over my own life goals for a season. It might mean sitting up at night to patrol the streets of a city and try to deliver women from prostitution. It might mean holding the head of someone kicking a drug habit as they vomit. It might mean going to the other side of the world and wearing a burqa. It might mean giving up internet access and pizza.
And like the priests of Leviticus, it might just mean redemption as someone accepts the atonement offering of Jesus Christ.
Hang in there. No matter how messy it gets on the ground, we have the assurance that we will stand before Him fresh and clean, worshiping around His throne as part of the only Inner Ring we should ever pursue.