Cut for the uninterested.
“Ring a round a roses,
Pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.”
I’ve read that this children’s rhyme may refer to the Black Plague (that bit of lit. history is debatable, but it’s a good intro here). The reference to “a pocket full of posies” would seem to back this up. It may be referring to one of the precautions taken in that era in an attempt to prevent contagion.
Some thought that the smell of the diseased person was the source of the illness. People wore or carried garlic or other strongly-scented herbs as protection: if you couldn’t smell it, it couldn’t get you. Of course, if you ran away from the sick people, that worked even better.
These days, after Louis Pasteur and the discovery of bacteria and viruses, this sort of thinking seems (while close, in some ways) quite off the mark. Certainly, carrying those scented items around did nothing to ward off plague. And since the germs were carried by the fleas on rats, even absenting yourself from those already ill was no guarantee of safety.
Many Christians treat sin and holiness in a similar way.
If you stay away from sinners, you won’t sin. Or, if you make everything around you look holy, avoiding even the appearance or thought of something wrong, then you won’t be tempted.
Hide, and be superstitious, and sequester oneself from the world lest you be contaminated!
That seems to be their idea of holiness.
To a point, they’re right. Avoiding temptation is good, an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Being around people who can build your faith and help you learn to live it is extremely important. And the Bible does say to “avoid even the appearance of evil.”
But on the other hand, evil is in the heart. And unless your heart belongs to Christ, is so full of Him and His love that nothing else can grow there, even all that avoidance will not be enough to keep you “holy.”
As for surrounding yourself with only “Christian” books, music, films, or what have you--how is that going to be honoring to God unless the works themselves are excellent? There is a trend in the evangelical Christian communities, that a basis in faith excuses shoddy craftsmanship. Anyway, just because you only listen to “God music,” doesn’t mean your life automatically reflects Christ.
Stopping a bacteria like the plague needs antibiotics, needs a healthy immune system.
Stopping the sin and evil that so readily find our hearts and lives requires the living Spirit of God inside us, and love being extended to our human brothers and sisters.
Holiness, far from being simply the absence of evil, is actually the powerful presence of good, of love, of God. The Christian life is not about what should not be (or at least, not solely that), it’s about what should be.
“We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.” --Angel
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (my emphasis)
"When [the priests] go out into the outer court where the people are, they are to take off the clothes they have been ministering in and are to leave them in the sacred rooms, and put on other clothes, so that they do not consecrate the people by means of their garments." Ezekiel 44:19
Or, to bring this back to our shared fannish bonds: It's like in that Doctor Who episode, "New Earth."