Living with Paradox
Holding two opposite things as true at the same time
We live in paradoxical times that have polarized relationships and our nation. We tend to paint other people with harsh, broad brush strokes of black or white. This looks like irreconcilable differences that threaten our ability to see one another as people, valuing our humanity and even life itself. We need peace with ourselves, one another, and peace with God.
: something made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible, inconsistent, contradictory, or absurd 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
http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/paradox and from The New Century Dictionary of the English Language, Copyright 1946 by D. Appleton-Century Company
Paradox - Empathy - Reconciliation
Living with paradox requires empathy and invites reconciliation, seeking to understand a viewpoint opposite of our own. Living gracefully with paradox is hard work.
Empathy is the sharing in another persons experiences and emotions by having the ability to enter into the feeling or spirit of a person with appreciative perception or understanding.
The word reconciliation comes from the root word exchange or adjustment. To be reconciled is to change mutually. Reconciliation is the act of two people or groups becoming friendly after an argument or disagreement. It is also the process of finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time.
Holding two opposite things as true at the same time with people
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.
The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.
The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.
Both are nonsense.
You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
– Rick Warren
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors,
and also to love our enemies;
probably because generally they are the same people.”
– GK Chesterton
The pages shown here are done in black and white on purpose, different than any of the others in my A-Z journal. The goofy illustrations are my attempt at optical illusions with the boxes and cylinders going forward and backward, all depending on how you look at them. The longer you look, the more the different directions can be perceived.
I used to want easy answers and saw things and people as right or wrong, in black and white terms. Now I want to grow in understanding, be open to new things God wants to show me, and to love people better.
Questions to Practically Consider
- How do I view and talk about others who disagree with me in those areas we tend to avoid (politics, religion etc.)?
- How can I show compassion to those who hold different values and views than me?
- What is one way I can live graciously with paradox and/or make peace in relationships this week?
The Bible is full of Paradoxes
There are many paradoxes in Scripture that may seem contradictory,
including imagery such as:
Jesus is the Light of the world as stated in numerous passages including John 8:12:
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said,
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me,
you won’t have to walk in darkness,
because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Jesus also said we are the light of the world as in Matthew 5:14 NLT:
“You are the light of the world—
like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
The enemy Satan is referred to as an angel of light in 2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT:
Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Serpent or Snake
A serpent or snake is often referencing the devil the evil one. But Moses was instructed by God to make a bronze statue of a cross with a snake on it so people who were dying would be healed when they looked at it.
This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,
the one deceiving the whole world—
was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
Revelation 12:9 NLT
And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent,
and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.”
So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole;
and whenever a serpent bit someone,
that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
Numbers 21:8 NRSV
Jesus is often referred to as the Lion of Judah.
“Then one of the elders said to me,
“Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has conquered,
so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Satan is referred to as a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.
He prowls around like a roaring lion,
looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
So how does all this relate to my word of the year? Aside from the practical applications asked in questions above, for me the concept of living with paradox causes me to consider what light does to darkness and how seeking light in the darkness is continually worthwhile.
“Darkness, the polar opposite of brightness,
is understood as a lack of illumination or an absence of visible light.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkness
The above truth helps me cope with the darkness and evil in the world as lack of the light of God and the need for goodness. When the light is dim, I miss some of what’s there. As I continue to grow in the Light of Christ I will be more and more enlightened into his way of thinking. Definitely not arrived yet, but desiring to grow and glow.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
Some Paradoxes in the Bible
This post is getting quite long. If you are interested in the paradoxes of Scripture, here is an article I found informative and interesting:
Below is an example of one of the paradoxes listed in the article linked above:
Paradox: Is Christ a peacemaker?
- “He will be named…Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
- “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace.” (Matthew 10:34)
Application questions: How does the gospel bring peace but also divisiveness? What peace did Christ bring at this first coming? What peace will Christ bring at His second coming?
Living Your Word 2019 Opportunity!
Bernice Hopper, and Mary Brack, and I share insights through blog posts for keeping an Everyday Calendar Journal. We will be using the journal to record events, experiences and relationships; to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. If you would like to connect with others in creative way about organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one place, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals ~ Living Your Word of the Year.
URL for Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/203309083575277/
URLs for Instagram: #livingyourword2019
CHECK OUT THE BLOGS:
Valerie: https://valeriesjodin.com/blog/ (this one :-))