I was in a dialogue with an atheist recently about a passage in the Psalms he didn’t like and he was saying “Your God is good isn’t he?” Well, yes. He is. However, I had to add that he is also a just God and he is a God who punishes sins.
But as I thought about it that night, I realized that that was the question I was asked. “Is he good?” Isn’t it interesting that that seems to be one of the main questions asked. The others would be “How can a God of love allow this to happen?”
It seems we focus then on the attributes that we like. We focus on the goodness of God because we want God to be good partially. Of course, we believe he is anyway in classical theology, but goodness is one that appeals to us more on how God relates to us.
We want God to be loving because we like the fact that God loves us. Now I don’t believe he is loving but that he is love and his being loving is a result of that. Again, I am not against saying that God is love and believing that he loves us.
We even want a God of justice at times because there are a lot of evil people in the world and we want to see them get what we deserve. Interesting aspect of that is that when it comes to punish sin, we always seem to want God to punish everyone else’s sins and never our own.
What about holiness?
I think this could be one reason we don’t emphasize holiness. We don’t see the relevance to our lives which is a great shame. However, it could be the opposite. It could be that we do see the relevance and we don’t want that relevance.
We can look at the other attributes and focus on how God is going to be towards us. When we think about his goodness, it means that he will be good to us. When we think about his loving, it means he will love us. When we think about his being just, it means he will punish those who abuse us.
When we think about him being holy, it means we must change the way we are to him.
It means we can’t approach God in a buddy-buddy way that is too often now. God is treated even less than the person that you’d treat on the street hopefully. A man talks to God while he’s shaving. One has to wonder if he’d do that if he was speaking before his boss sometime. Would you take your razor to your boss’s office when you have to meet him and shave while you talk to him?
What about changing your life? Most of us would not like the world to know some of the sins we remember doing. I know I wouldn’t. We have to realize God does know them and we have to own up to them. Holiness forces us, if we acknowledge it, to admit that we were wrong.
Are you willing to give up some things? Are you willing to start practicing some things? It might mean you have to ditch that internet pornography you’ve been dealing in. It might mean you have to part with some of your money in order to support the cause of Christ. Are you willing?
We don’t like change. Really. Most of us would like things to stay the same.
Holiness says you either become like Christ or you don’t see him at all.
And oh, we all say we want that, and in some level, most of us do, but we don’t want it in that way. We want to be like Christ in the way that we think he is and not the way that he really is. Surely this is a little sin! Surely God won’t make a big deal about that!
Now I think there are degrees of sin, but let’s remember that all sin is sin and it just takes one.
Holiness. It’s a doctrine that we might not emphasize because we don’t like what it requires. It requires nothing of God, as if any other doctrine did, but it requires everything of us. Do we really care about holiness today?