a vestige of thought...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Thought on Holiness

I am told that there is no such thing as cold. What we call "cold" is not an actual thing, but rather a lack of something else. Cold is lack of heat. If you take away heat, cold is what's left. Except it's not really cold, it's lack of heat. I know; it's circular. Light and darkness work the same way. Darkness is simply lack of light. It can be "created" by taking light away, but cannot exist on its own.

In my philosophy class, we have spent a good chunk of time discussing 'evil' as a distortion of 'goodness." Words such as [dys]function, [im]proper, and [dis]honesty seem to indicate this, and we talked about how it implies a perfect standard. I couldn't help thinking, though, that this seemed too simple. After all, could we argue the opposite if our English vocabulary were different, and 'good' prefixes negated the 'bad' meaning of a word. But I came to realize that maybe the issue is bigger than that. Maybe 'good' and 'bad' have the same relationship as 'hot' and 'cold.' Maybe 'evil,' as we think of it, does not exist, exactly. Maybe 'evil' is a lack of 'goodness,' or--as we like to say around Asbury--'holiness.'

At first this seemed backward to me because we as Christians spend so much time trying to rid our lives of sin, as though holiness were a lack of sin and could not exist on its own. But God existed in perfect holiness long before sin entered into existence. As a result, holiness must be our starting point, not the other way around. Maybe we Christians are going about things the wrong way. Rather than working to rid our lives of sin, maybe we should fill our lives with holiness. You can't gain light by getting rid of darkness. You have to add light, and the darkness will vanish. If sin is actually a lack of holiness, as darkness is absence of light, then adding holiness will remove sin with a success that human attempts to vanquish something that does not "exist" can never attain.

The question that logically follows is, 'How, exactly, does one add holiness to his or her life?' I'm not exactly sure. I can give the Sunday School answer: read the Bible, pray, spend time in fellowship with people who encourage you to be Christ-like. That's so cliche. An answer that I like better, despite the fact that it is more vague, is to seek more of God's grace, which is sufficient for all our needs (2 Cor 12:9) and more of His Spirit, which transforms us (2 Cor 3:18). James 4:2 says that we don't have because we don't ask God for them. Let's ask him.

Perhaps, then, this second answer is the same as the first.

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posted by Christy at 11:15 AM


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