In the human dream of a perfect world, holiness is always visualized as untouchability by sin and evil, as something unmixed with the later; there always remains in some form or other a tendency to think in terms of black and white, a tendency to cut out and reject mercilessly the current form of the negative. In contemporary criticism of society and in the actions in which it vents itself, this merciless side always present in human ideals is once again only too evident.
That is why the aspect of Christ’s holiness that upset his contemporaries was the complete absence of this condemnatory note – fire did not fall on the unworthy nor were the zealous allowed to pull up the weeds which they saw growing luxuriantly on all sides. On the contrary, this holiness expressed itself precisely as mingling with sinners whom Jesus drew into his vicinity; as mingling to the point where he himself was made “to be sin” and bore the curse of the law in execution as a criminal – complete community of fate with the lost. He has drawn sin to himself, made it his lot and so revealed what true “holiness” is: not separation but union, not judgement but redeeming love.
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