Here is the definition of “paradox” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary:
: something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible
: someone who does two things that seem to be opposite to each other or who has qualities that are opposite
: a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true
I have found God’s Kingdom to be filled with paradoxes. Even God’s very nature seems rather paradoxical when you consider such anomalies as:
- God is one and God is three.
- God is infinitely and perfectly good and sovereign and evil exists in the world
- God is both and equally just and merciful.
- Jesus is fully God and fully man.
- God is seated on His throne and everywhere in the universe all at once.
Honestly, I find God and His kingdom to be all the more compelling by virtue of the fact that I can’t make sense of them. If I could wrap my mind around who God is, He wouldn’t be so utterly fascinating.
I think as humans, we like to have things figured out. We like things to be black and white. Clear cut. Dissectible. Containable.
I think it makes us feel safe or at least safer. It minimizes risk and uncertainty.
But God is not a frog lying belly-up on a table in Jr. High science class. He can’t be contained in a box or reduced to a 10-page report.
He is Holy.
Wholly apart. Wholly different from everything and everyone.
And so is His kingdom.
The logic and reasoning of this world doesn’t apply.
Jesus spent a lot of time talking about God’s kingdom. Just consider a few of the paradoxical truths He says permeates life in the kingdom of God:
- The first are last
- The humble are exalted
- The weak are strong
- The servant of all is the greatest of all
- The wise are foolish and the foolish, wise
- The least among us are the greatest
- To enter the kingdom, you must become like a child
- To live, you must die
- To gain you must give
- To find your life you must lose it
- Those who mourn are crowned with joy
- Count it all joy when you experience trials
- The work required of us is no work at all, it is simply to believe
- Things of value aren’t things at all
- Give to those who steal from you
- Give without expecting anything in return
- It is better to give than to receive
- Love and pray for those who hate, abuse and mock you
- Don’t retaliate or defend yourself
- We have already been redeemed, we currently are being redeemed and will be redeemed when Jesus returns
- God’s kingdom is coming and is already here on earth
- The streets in the coming kingdom are paved with gold (what’s valuable now has no value at all in the kingdom that’s coming)
- Whoever has will be given more while those who do not have will be stripped of everything
- We are to “work out our faith” but “it is God who works in and through us”
- The weak, broken and outcast God uses to bring healing, comfort and courage
- The guilty are justified
- The innocent are crucified
And of course, one of the biggest “kickers” so many get lost in debate over:
- God is completely sovereign and man is accountable for his actions
I like to think these paradoxes are really all about tension… and by extension, faith.
We generally don’t like tension. On the whole, we try to avoid or minimize it as best we can. We want things to fit into charts and graphs we can analyze and comprehend. But comprehension doesn’t require faith.
Isn’t that so like God?
He seems pretty big on this idea of us trusting Him. Knowing this much about God, it makes perfect sense that in this life, there should be many things we can’t understand in order that we should have ample opportunities to exercise faith in Him.
Of course, some of us try to convince ourselves we are able to make sense of everything and spend our lives attempting to rationalize the inconceivable.
But we are called to trust,
to be children who live at peace with the things we can’t comprehend, trusting that our Father is so much wiser than we are and He does know how everything works together. With this peace of mind that comes from faith, we can hold in each hand two seemingly opposing truths and say:
“These are both true. I don’t see how they can be but they are and I can rest in knowing that God has it figured out.”
Heavenly Father, make me more child-like so I can rest in the fact that you have everything all figured out …You did after all, design the universe and spoke it into being… If You don’t know how it all works, no one does!
Standing in awe of Your inconceivable wisdom,