Holiness for Dummies

By Dale Holloway

Take a stroll fown the aisles of your local book store and you will find a host of books for "dummies." From working on the computer to working on your landscaping, simplified instructions are best-sellers.

Why the popularity of these books? Because many people don't have the time to wade through detailed and complex instructional manuals. Some manuals often assume that you possess a degree of knowledge which often doesn't exist.

There are many Bible-challenged individuals as well. Perhaps what we Wesleyans need is a good book on Holiness for Dummies.

Just think how a book like this could simplify our busy lives. Instead of spending so much time reading the Bible, we could quickly read a couple of paragraphs from our Dummies book and then get on with the rest of our busy day.

For example, let's say you're stuck on Matthew 5:48, where Jesus said, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Now there's a tough one. But you could just look in the Dummies index under "perfect" and get the quick-and-easy, simplified explanation. It might read something like this: "Fine for then; tough now. Add 'Do your best to" before 'be perfect.'"

See what I mean? This is so much easier than messing around with all that cross-referencing and checking out other books on the subject. That takes far too much time and effort. Plus, the dummies explanation is a lot easier than what Jesus actually said.

How about all those verses that talk about being holy because God is holy? Did God really mean that? Check out your trusty Dummies book. You might find the instruction: "Add 'Try to' before the word 'be" and 'as' after it. Then insert 'as you can be' after the word 'holy.'" After these what do we get? "Try to be as holy as you can be, because God is holy." Now we're getting somewhere. This makes living a life of holiness a bit more realistic, don't you think?

If the author of this Holiness for Dummies book does it right, maybe we won't even have to practice the spiritual disciplines anymore. You know, things like solitude, fasting, sacrifice, and prayer. This would simplify the complexity in our lives. Who's got time to do those things these days? Surely the biblcal writers had no idea how hectic life in the 21st century would be.

There may be some who think all this Dummies stuff is, well, dumb. Admittedly, it does pose some problems. Matthew 16:24 is an example, where Jesus said, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. That almost sounds as if there may be some personal sacrifice involved in living a life of holiness. Our Dummies author would have to get a bit creative with that one.

Matthew 10:39 is another potentially problematic verse: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Ouch! Unless our author puts a good soin on that one, few will buy the book.

Perhaps this Holiness for Dummies book idea needs further consideration before hitting the shelves.

(This article was first published in the Fall 2004 edition of Wesleyan Life magazine. )

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Used by Permission