Summary: Webster's defines a paradox as: "A statement contrary to common belief. A statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd, but that may actually be true." There are paradoxes when it comes to Christianity. Let's take a look at some of them.
Webster's defines a paradox as: "A statement contrary to common belief. A statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd, but that may actually be true." A paradox is something that's not necessarily a contradiction; just a contradiction in terms.
There are some paradoxes when it comes to Christianity. In fact, Christianity is largely built on paradoxes. It makes sense that it would be since it's realities need to seem impossible in order to see the miraculous nature in it. Let's look at some of the paradoxes of Christianity.
1) You have to be brought low in order to be lifted up.
Jesus said in Matt. 23:12, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
It doesn't make sense to think that in order to go up we must go down. It seems counterproductive. And in some senses you'd be right. However, in regards to spirituality, it's the only way.
"Ten years after finishing law school, Chuck Colson found himself working in the White House, appointed as Special Counsel to President Nixon in 1969, responsible for inviting influential private special interest groups into the White House policy-making process and winning their support on specific issues. For four glorious years he was known as Nixon’s hatchet man. He dispensed favors and issued orders in the name of the President. Colson confessed he was “valuable to the President because I was willing to be ruthless in getting things done.”
Then came Watergate and he was implicated along with other Nixon aides. In 1974, Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He was given a one-to-three year sentence, fined $5,000 and disbarred. In prison, a dramatic thing happened. A proud man, he accepted Jesus Christ into his life. After he was released, he went back into prison. This time, to start a ministry called Prison Fellowship to reach out to other prison inmates.
Colson has received fifteen honorary doctorates, but he said: “All my achievements meant nothing in God’s economy. My greatest humiliation - being sent to prison-was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life. Now I could see, after I lost everything I thought made Chuck Colson a great guy, what God intended for me to be and the true purpose of my life. God does not want our success. He wants us.”
Chuck had to be brought low so he could be brought high. He had to lose what was of human importance so he could gain what was of spiritual importance. Some people would say Chuck lost everything. But Chuck wouldn't see it that way; he would say he gained everything. Paul said in Phil. 3:8 that he considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus.
But in order for Paul to be brought to that understanding he needed to be knocked to the ground and blinded. It's not that we'll necessarily have to go through what Paul and Chuck did in order to be humbled and lifted up but if we are in the category of exalting ourselves we will be humbled. And if we respond in humility we put ourselves in the position to be lifted up by God.
Luke 18:9-14, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
There are plenty of people who are confident of their own righteousness. And probably in many people's eyes they would think the person was righteous. There are a lot of "good" people out there. Religious people; people who do good things. And then there are the tax collectors; people who society would consider to be unrighteous. Here in this case we see Jesus explaining that it is backwards.
For all appearances the one who would be considered holy, blameless and righteous would be the Pharisee and the one who would be deemed as the opposite would be the tax collector. But Jesus tells his audience that it's actually the other way around. Why? Surely the tax collector isn't doing the religious things the Pharisee was doing. Surely he didn't fit the standard of a good person. It all came down to humility; which one recognized his own sinfulness and his need for forgiveness.