Have you ever read Leviticus? When you did, was it enjoyable? It is not that bad, but it is a book which contains passages which require some discipline. But if you carefully apply your Bible study methods, you can find veins of gold hidden among the rocks.

It is in Leviticus we discover the list of clean and unclean animals. Just a pile of rocks, right? Well, perhaps there is some gold in those stones. The list of unclean animals is long and interesting – camels, rabbits, vultures, ravens, horned owls, screech owls, storks, bats, ants, beetles, bears, lizards, skinks, weasels, rats, and snakes. And oh yes – lobsters!

What does God have against lobsters? Well, that is a question scholars have been debating for centuries. A rather interesting observation is that in each case the animal determined to be “unfit,” are those which show an anomaly. For example, since fish are supposed to have fins and scales, shellfish and eel are unfit. Birds are meant to fly, and thus emus and ostriches do not qualify. Land animals should walk on all fours, not crawl along the ground like a snake. Domesticated cattle, sheep, and goats chew the cud and have cloven hooves; therefore so should all such edible mammals. Rabbi Jacob Neusner agrees when he says, “If I had to say in a few words what makes something unclean, it is something that, for one reason or another, is abnormal.”

Phillip Yancy has captured the essence of these clean/unclean laws with the phrase, “No oddballs allowed.” God demanded perfection; God deserved the best. No oddballs allowed. And that is exactly what is so striking about the message of our Savior.

Christ taught over and over that those judged undesirable by everyone else are infinitely desirable to God, and when one of them turns to God, a party breaks out (check out Luke 15). We are all oddballs, but God loves us anyhow. By the time Peter watches the sheet fall from the sky in Acts 11, the barrier between clean and unclean had been removed in the cross. It did take some convincing for the church to adjust. Maybe even a thousand years.

Have we ever gotten it right? Is today’s church known for grace? Is it known for loving the unlovely. Are we known for loving different people? Oddballs? Lobsters? As society morally unravels do we show more mercy or more morality? Jesus gained a reputation as a lover of sinners. Do we share His reputation?
I want a culture morally right, but I think it is just as important for our culture to get to know a church that is so full of grace that no matter what they have done, they are welcome. Let’s dispense some grace this week!