Many of the key teachings of Jesus on spirituality are expressed in paradox. A paradox is a statement that on first glance is wrong, but upon closer thought reveals a deeper spiritual truth. This can prove a stumbling block for many non-believers when approached with the sovereignty of God's Word, and it can also prove difficult for the most mature of believers to reconcile. If we allow our faith to hold to the true and Biblical paradoxes, then this will call for a bit of tension in our faith. It could possibly even lead to unresolved tension, meaning, we can't always wrap our finite minds around it.
Imagine a glass of water in which you drop a pencil. The pencil appears disconnected or disjointed, yet you know that the pencil is in fact entirely whole. This visual image can help us understand the concept of paradoxes in Scripture. Heaven is perfect, and earth is fragmented by the effects of sin. As a result, perfect heavenly concepts appear "not quite right" when they make their way into the earth. Our own human minds cannot fully comprehend the holiness of God....the "pencils" of God's perfect truth appear disjointed, so to speak.
You may not realize just how familiar you are with Biblical paradoxes or how deeply embedded they are buried within your psychological file cabinet of memorized Scriptures. In fact, Biblical paradoxes often represent some of the most cherished of Biblical truths that frame the way we view and live life as believers. For example......:
- Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)
- The last will be made first (Matthew 19:30)
- We are in the word but not of the world (John 17:14-16)
- Humble yourself to be honored (James 4:10)
- To live you must die (1 Cor 15:36-38)
- Surrender your life to save it (Matthew 10:39, Galatians 2:20)
- When you are weak, you are strong (2 Cor 12:10)
- Difficulties are a reason for joy! (James 1:2)
- Freedom is found through slavery (Romans 6:18)
- We gain everything through losing everything (Phil 3:7-8)
- True leadership is found in serving (Matthew 20:26-28)
God did not include these seemingly contradictory principles in His Word to confuse us. Rather, He calls us to seek out the meanings behind these principles so that we might gain wisdom. Proverbs 1:5-6 instructs us:
"Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance6
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
the words of the wise and their riddles."
It may be tempting to simply glide over Scriptures that are more difficult to understand at face value, but God's desire is that we listen to become wiser and understanding to receive guidance for how we are to live our lives. Each of these paradoxes aptly applied will enable us to live more like Jesus, and thus lead more people to His salvation! There is POWER behind these truths. Power to save, to heal, to encourage, to free from bondage, to gain influence, to obtain honor, to find peace, and to open up the doorways to heaven.
Jesus repeatedly declared to His disciples that "He who has ears to hear, let Him hear!" The Message puts it this way, "Are you listening to me? Really listening?" So let me ask you, "Are you listening? Really listening?" Are you digging deep into the often strenuous and perplexing work of rightly dividing the word of truth? If you are not, you stand just as those who followed Jesus wherever He went but completely missed the purpose for His ministry. Jesus came to bridge the gap between God and man through this death and resurrection, but He also came to set the standard for us to live by to bring God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
These paradoxical truths are like keys that unlock the doorways to heaven, and God has given us those keys! (Matthew 16:19). We have choices to make each day we walk the earth when it comes to these paradoxical statements. Will we trust them enough to surrender when we desire to fight back, to give when it seems we have nothing left to give, to humble ourselves before others, to celebrate joyfully during the trials of life, and to count all things in this world as garbage compared to knowing Christ?
All scripture is inspired by God and is given to teach us, rebuke us, and train us in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). Let me encourage you to seek out the tough Scriptures, meditate upon them for as long as it takes, praying that God will give you revelation. When you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him! (Jeremiah 29:13, Proverbs 8:17).
- Karl Galik - The Love Paradox - http://www.karlgalik.com/
- Jim Etheridge - Paradoxes of the Scriptures - http://www.sebc.edu/
- Pastor Rick Taylor - If you Lose your Life you Find It - http://www.sulphurspringsfwb.com/
- Julie Batura - Mother's Day Hope - http://community.focusonthefamily.com/members/paul-batura/default.aspx
- John Koessler - Surprising Grace of Disappointment - http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41829&pid=97769
- Pastor Clarke Skelton, Valley Grande Baptist - Paradoxes of the Scripture - http://www.valleygrande.org
- Graham Standish - Paradoxes of the Scriptures
- Kristie Drake - Celebrating Mother's Day - http://www.strengtheningme.org/
Matthew 10:39 - He who finds his life will lose it , and he who loses it for my sake will find it.
Matthew 19:30 - But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Mark 12:30-31 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Acts 20:35 - It is more blessed to give, than to receive.
Mark 10:43-44 - But it shall not be so among you: but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
2 Corinthians 12:10 - That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
James:1:2 - Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy!
Hebrews:11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."