Most of us by now have heard of “FOMO”, also known as Fear Of Missing Out. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful articles, blogs and references to it lately, and I started thinking about it a lot today, on Yom Kippur. Also known as The Day of Atonement, this was one Biblical feast I was not really enthusiastically looking forward to. It’s easy to get excited and worked up for The Festival of Trumpets, or The Feast of Tabernacles (we’ve got a running countdown until our camping trip), but Yom Kippur comes after a ten day period of reflection and repentance. On this day:
“You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:27)
It is tradition for many to partake in a dry fast this day, and have neither food nor water. You can also “fast” from other things, like social media, TV, etc. As I was preparing for this day, I kept thinking to myself…okay, so ten days of looking inward and confessing and repenting of my sin before God, THEN I have to give up food and water for a whole day, and it’s called a celebration? It just didn’t seem like a good time. Just being honest here!
I got to thinking earlier this morning, there is no secular holiday that is really comparable to this one. Truly, none are comparable, but this one stands alone. I can’t think of anybody off the top of my head that looks forward to the deep inner work of laying our souls bare before Yahweh, knowing how undeserving we are even more acutely after ten days of reflection. And I thought, half-laughingly, at least nobody is at risk of FOMO when they see others celebrating this holy day!
But then I thought again.
“You are to be holy to me, because I, the Lord, am holy, and I Have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” (Leviticus 20:23)
“Such a high priest truly meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)
“Remember that the Lord rescued you from Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today.” (Deuteronomy 4:20)
So often in Scripture, we see that God is calling us to be set apart. It isn’t just the Old Testament, either – we see Jesus telling people to live differently, to go against the grain. And Jesus even admits that when we live like He did, we will find ourselves at odds with the world. Listen to what He told his disciples shortly before He was arrested, and then crucified.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” (John 15:18)
There’s something you won’t typically hear about in mainstream Christian churches! I admit that part of me feels uncomfortable with Yom Kippur, and it’s not just because nobody else seems to be doing it. It goes against the very grain of our culture. What if…what IF, it makes some people uncomfortable when I say no, I can’t meet you for lunch, I’m having a day of prayer and repentance…which, coincidentally, is actually such a big deal to our Creator that the punishment for not adhering to this day was death. Does that feel uncomfortable? Yes!
I know some amazing Christians. I love some amazing Christians. But when I think of mainstream Christianity, I think of them as people the world kind of likes, and definitely accepts. These are the people who organize the neighborhood food drive and yearly bake sale. They do give to the poor and help those who are helpless. They do the work fo Jesus. But. They fit in. They listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows, eat the same food. They celebrate Christmas along with those who hate the name of Jesus, but THEY have a sign that says “Jesus is the reason for the season”, and everyone just nods and smiles, because they’re collaborating together for a bigger picture – presents under the tree, peppermint mocha lattes, mistletoe over every door…capitalism at it’s finest. I don’t know very many who I can truly say are so set apart and abandoned for God, the world hates them.
Could it be that a lot of Christians aren’t suffering from FOMO, as much as they think they are? Perhaps the true problem is FOBSA. Fear Of Being Set Apart.
It is isolating and a bit scary to step into this world I’m delving into. To step forward and break the status quo and set myself up as one of those people who is going to notably be set apart. The world notices, if you’re different. They notice if you are doing something uncomfortable, because it makes them uncomfortable. Will our family be hated? I certainly hope not. But I know it’s possible.
And yet, by the grace of Yahweh…this day, my first celebration of The Day of Atonement, has suddenly become special and cherished to me in a way I never expected at all. I couldn’t care less about fitting in with the world around me, because I’m relishing in the joy and sweetness of being set apart to the Lord. In my actions, presenting a special offering and gift to Him – the gift of prioritizing Him over my comfort, over my desire to belong in the world, over the traditions I’ve grown up with.
May the Spirit fill you all with peace and joy as you continue to trust in the Lord.