Men and women throughout the history of the church have felt, at times, they have wanted to do more for God. They understand the saving acts of God – the painful death of Jesus on the cross – and they are unsatisfied with their level of commitment and sacrifice for the Lord. They want to do more for him.
Out of this desire spring missionary endeavors, new churches, extravagant financial gifts, and whole new ministries. People set themselves aside for God’s use, and they are unsatisfied with only a little sacrifice and only a little service. They want to do more.
The Nazirites lived like the high priests in the way they set themselves apart from all others, and they did so voluntarily. Their long hair was a mark of their decision to give themselves over to God. The expensive offerings at the conclusion of their “separation” were evidence of their seriousness, even at the end.
In the Old Testament, Samson and Samuel were Nazirites. Some believe John the Baptist was, too. And the apostle Paul may have taken a Nazirite vow at one point in his life (Acts 18:18). Such vows did not seem contradictory to life in the early church (Acts 21:23-24).
The fact of the matter is, there always are some who want to do more for God – to give their lives fully over to his use. They aren’t interested in only a Sunday morning ritual or writing out a tithe check each month. They want to do more, to give all they have.
Of course, some remain rightfully and quietly tethered to their “worldly” vocations. The world continues to need farmers and teachers and nurses and administrators and real estate managers and telephone repairmen. God can be glorified in all of these.
We come to Jesus Christ like a Nazirite, whether we frame it in these terms or not. The cost of following Jesus is a steep one. And Jesus warns us of this cost. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:57-58).
And yet, we still are called to come, to take up our crosses, and to follow. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
The danger, as Christians, is to look to those who want to do “more,” and say, “That is not me. I have not been called to anything like that.” And we may try to separate our working life from our worship life, and our recreational life from both of those.
But all of these things belong to God, who is “over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). These things – in fact, all things – were given for our sustenance and our enjoyment. And in all of them, we can bring glory to God. We can give all of them to God.
The Nazirites rightfully understood their obligation to their Creator and Redeemer. We do that, too, wherever we are.