Friday, December 08, 2006

Grappling the Great Paradoxes

This week, as I was finishing up some of my school studies, I noticed how often the word "paradox" came up. A simple definition for "paradox" is "a self-contradictory and false proposition." Well, that's the simplest one that I've found so far, anyways. Other than that, the only way I can think to describe a paradox is "the thing that often makes my brain hurt." Pretty scholarly definition huh? Seriously though, a paradox is one of the most difficult concepts for the human mind to grasp. By definition, it is a contradiction---something that doesn't make logical or rational sense and instead turns human logic on its head.

Even though the paradoxes that I've been dealing with lately have been mostly theoretical, such as those that are found in a short story or a poem, human life is riddled with them. And so is the Christian faith. The main paradox is, of course, the foundation for our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior: that he gives us the gift of eternal life only by way of his death on the cross.

In the well known verse of Matthew 16:25, Jesus explains what this paradox means for believers when he says "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." These are not easy words for anyone to hear. For those who live for Christ, they are words of supreme comfort, but they are also words which demonstrate that the Christian life will be one of constant struggle, where our very life will be a sacrifice. They are also words that acknowledge the tragedy that all those who seek salvation without Christ, instead of through Him, will be lost.

I recently came across an excellent article on entitled "Obstacles to the Eternal Life of Muslims", which addresses the paradox that is robbing Muslim believers of their life in Christ. Even though modern society seems to think that the words "hate" and "tolerance" are diametric opposites, this article effectively articulates how both of these responses to Islam obstruct a Muslim's path to eternal life.

It's a bit too long to post here, but I encourage you to read it. It is but one example of how necessary it is for us to grapple with the paradoxes that arise during our walk with the Lord. We have to think about these paradoxes--we have to write about them, talk about them and yes, even argue about them. Because even though these paradoxes might seem overwhelming--even though they might cause our head to hurt or our heart to ache--we are can still fully trust in the Lord. For him there are no uncertanities, limitations or "obstacles." There is only truth and life.

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