Grace adds, it never subtracts. Most people, when they read Genesis, are likely to fall into thinking about whether or not the universe was created in seven literal days.
One does not have to travel far to find a debate on this very topic, and as a result, I feel a lot of valuable wisdom to be found in the creation account is lost.
One of the prevailing and more beautiful ideas of it is that God creates things in a perfect state and that sin is the detraction of said state. A fish is only a fish when it does what God created a fish to do. When a fish tries to climb a tree, it is no longer ‘being a fish’ and hence it is no longer doing what God ordained it to do.
The word ‘sin’ (hamartano) means, roughly speaking, to ‘miss the mark’ (the term is related to archery) or to ‘fall short’ meaning that there’s something that is meant to be which just is not ‘being’. Sin, then, is not some act of evil which tips the scales of the spiritual war towards the devil, but rather should be understood as the falling short of God’s will and desire for who you are meant to be. It is the ‘6’ to God’s ‘7’; it’s just not quite there.
Perfection as an unattainable
If I’ve explained my thinking well enough, there are a few ideas you can put together. In my church-going experience, there has always been a sense of ‘one must squash themselves in order to point the glory to God’. If you’ve ever served on a team of some kind, at least in more evangelical circles, you’ll have heard things that lean this way. “Let’s remember this isn’t about us, this is about God”.
In a sense, this is certainly true. But in another sense, God didn’t create man to be Himself. He created man to be man. To me, and perhaps you’ve noticed some critical heresies in what I’m saying, the most glory is brought to God when we ARE that fullest and most perfect version of ourselves.
When one feels they were made to be a teacher, they glorify God by being the greatest teacher they can be. Their joy is found in the fulfillment of their God-given purpose. Thus, God is praised.
The parallel of the inventor
Think of an inventor who comes up with an idea. This idea, the inventor knows, will bring so much joy to people and will be extraordinarily meaningful. The inventor constructs their design and plonks it down on the bench.
But instead of doing what it is meant to do (for the sake of the example, let’s say it’s a hoverboard) it shoots straight into a wall and explodes. The next time the inventor constructs the hoverboard, it works exactly as planned.
Such joy the inventor now feels because they know what they have created is functioning as intended and will serve as it was planned to serve.
How to miss the mark
Gluttony is a sin, yet the act of eating is not a sin – indeed, the act of eating sustains our bodies – but to eat so much that it stops us from acting on our God-given nature is to miss that mark precisely; it is to climb a tree as a fish.
I started with the statement ‘grace adds, it never subtracts’ and briefly discussed how my church experience usually sees a squashing of the individual. What I mean by that is, the glory of God is not found in taking away your nature, but in purifying it. In hitting the mark exactly. In turning ‘6’ into ‘7’.
In you being the most perfect version of you, as the inventor intended you to function, in the perfect state God meant you to be. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians Chapter 10, verse 31, NRSV)
Josiah Gray lives in Logan City, Australia. He is currently studying teaching at Christian Heritage College and is committed to telling the story of Jesus to the next generation. Josiah’s previous articles may be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josiah-gray.html