Jesus’ earthly life was full of paradox. He was the giver of life and yet he gave himself over to death. He hungered, yet he fed multitudes. He grew weary, yet he is our rest. He thirsted, yet he is the water of life. He was the light of the world, yet he was overcome by darkness on the cross. He was sold for 30 pieces of silver, yet he redeems the world. All the fullness of God dwelt bodily in him, yet he voluntarily became a servant.
Given that his life was full of paradox it is not surprising that Jesus calls us to live a life of paradox. He said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) With this and other similar sayings Jesus calls us to paradox. Paradox is foundational to the Christian life.
However, embracing paradox is not for the fainthearted; it takes faith and courage. It is never easy, often confusing and sometimes painful. However, embracing paradox is essential to Christian maturity. It pulls us away from our naive and inadequate attempts at making life work and drives us to encounter the profound mysteries of our faith at even greater deaths and draws us ever further into experiencing the love of God.
In a world governed by science and logic following Jesus appears foolish, absurd or even self-defeating. Yet, as the apostle Paul says in another context, while it is “foolishness to those who are perishing… to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
After all, it was Jesus who said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16).
Stephen L Baxter