Contrast

I came across a beautiful truth as I was reading a book on grammar by Richard Young for my Greek class. I want to say it was a riveting read but it was pretty technical and I found myself rereading pages just to fully grasp the minute details. There was, however, one passage in a chapter on sentence structure that surprisingly stirred me. The passage was explaining the idea of “prominence” as the “state of standing out from the surroundings so as to be easily noticed.”

What caught my eye the most was the statement: “If all parts of a discourse are equally prominent, total unintelligibility results. The result is like being presented with a piece of black paper and being told, ‘This is a picture of black camels crossing black sands at midnight.’” So in essence, “We can only perceive something if it stands out from its background.”

I have thought often about this idea of contrast and how it is through contrast that we are able to perceive many truths. The main contrast that this brings to mind is that of good and evil. This is by no means an essay on why evil exists but rather a mere reflection on its existence in light of the existence of good.

In this world every human being has an idea of good and evil. Like the range of colors with its varying degrees of intensity, so it is with a range from good to evil. Some things can be viewed even as morally neutral or indifferent. There is an idea present in all of us of the two extremes from good to evil. We see figures in history like Hitler as the epitome of evil and Mother Teresa as the epitome of good.

I could totally be wrong about this, but we have a clearer idea of what is good because we have the contrast of evil. Evil makes good prominent. The good stands out from the bad like a candle that lights up a dark room.

Though contrast helps reveal what is prominent, the contrast only helps us to see the reality. The contrast does not make it the reality. A candle in a well-lit room won’t be as prominent as in a dark room but it burns regardless. In the same way, God’s goodness doesn’t depend on the contrast because it is true in and of itself. But when we rightly reflect on our own sinful nature, and the evil that is in the world, the thing most prominent is God’s goodness and holiness.

It is easy to compare good with evil and to see that great divide. But how I believe all should see it, the most glorious contrast is God to everything else. Even the best thing in this world would fail to compare to His glory. In all things God is not only prominent but he is also preeminent. This is the beautiful contrast.

Though it is right and good to recognize how God is contrasted with the world, let our lives correspond to that knowledge, being salt and light, living for Jesus Christ who has transformed and is transforming us into His image. My prayer is that others can see the contrast of those who believe in the Resurrection and the rest of the world, all to the Glory of His Name.

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