I read an article recently about God and the paradoxes that define His nature.
The author (Richard P. Hansen) made a list:
• We see unseen things.
• We conquer by yielding.
• We find rest under a yoke.
• We reign by serving.
• We are made great by becoming small.
• We are exalted when we are humble.
• We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake.
• We are made free by becoming bondservants.
• We gain strength when we are weak.
• We triumph through defeat.
• We find victory by glorying in our infirmities.
• We live by dying.
I think Jesus is completely paradoxical.
• He built by tearing down. (John 2:13-25)
• He came to divide and reconcile. (Luke 12:49-53 & Ephesians 2:14-18)
• He will redeem and repay. (Romans 12:17-21)
• He confronted and avoided. (Matthew 23 & Luke 4:30)
Do you see a paradox of love and wrath?
It seems there is a duality that cannot be the blameless lamb of God nor a representative of a loving God. Jesus says in John 14:10-11:
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”
|Tear down systems||Build a system|
|Divide families||Reconcile all in one spirit|
|Repay w/ wrath||Redeem w/ love|
|Confronts Conflict||Avoids Conflict|
I can see why people get confused and rationalize that God doesn’t exist or he is a being of remarkable hate that allows the worse to happen to people he supposedly loves.
We have two options as freethinkers and choosers.
- We can choose to accept this contradiction as a mystery we can’t explain.
- We can dismiss this paradox as justification to not believe.
I am taking a third option that is not followed as much as the two previously mentioned. I am going to ruminate on something Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9-16 the following:
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[b]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[c] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
I think the first response stops at verse 9. We don’t know and will never know so stop trying to figure God out. But…it appears to ignore verses 10-16 of 1 Corinthians that says we have been given the Spirit who knows all things and offers us the mind of Christ.
I propose a third option:
- We can seek to understand how he is both love and wrath.
Jeremiah 29:13 says: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Romans 5:5: And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Are these scriptures lighting a path to clarity? Am I able to hear from the Spirit on why he is paradoxical?
I am not attempting to explain him as much as I am desiring to know Him.
Here is what my seeking, knocking and asking has revealed to me by His Spirit.
I think God is paradoxical because there is an opponent. There is a bad guy out there trying to steal, kill and destroy.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
If you are a mom or dad or grandparent or even a “good samaritan”, you know that when other people are being hurt, you might see your wrath come out. You might see some anger you didn’t know existed. You see evil and you are not delighting. You see lies and you want truth. You see someone in pain and you want to protect. You want to speak because others trust you. You want to hope because there has been so much hopelessness. You persevere despite attacks because you love enough to never stop fighting.
There is a raging battle around us right now. Our wrath and our love is seemingly opposed but it is also fueling a truth and a hope that is purely motivated by love.
The sin may be in your intent or in your motives. I think if 1 Corinthians 13 says anything, it says love is not selfish. If your motives are for you, your image, reputation, agenda, gain, motives, etc. then you have missed God completely. If it is grounded in love then it is purposeful and will bring the necessary change.
Jesus was pissed off in the temple. This is not news to anyone. He had a freaking whip. He was reviled at the mockery they had made of mercy. So he did something about it. He offended everyone that day and he knew he would die for it. He would die for a lot of other things he said, but he said them anyway. He was not quiet in Matthew 23 when he called the Pharisees empty corpses full of “hypocrisy” and “wickedness”.
In Luke 12:49, He says that, “…he has come with fire” and in verse 51, he boldly says, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” This is the complete opposite of Ephesians 2:14-18.
He took on the establishment of law, legalism and religious futility with His body. His mouth repudiated hypocrisy and his body took every lash of their rage towards his insults. Jesus appeared to instigate and provoke. If he had just not talked to the Samaritan woman or healed on the Sabbath or rebuked demonic forces or shut his mouth when he was being coerced into an argument, he would not have been killed.
But love said otherwise.
Bob Goff says “love does” and Jesus said, “Love did” when he said “it is finished”.
Love sometimes confronts injustice. It speaks for the person who cannot speak. It dies for those who don’t deserve it and it makes a way of peace. I am not indicating that bloodshed is the key to peace, but I am saying that his blood was shed to create peace.
His love “built” a new church in us.
His love “reconciled” all into one body.
His love “redeemed” us while we were still sinners.
His love “avoids” the enemy’s attack.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
God’s wrath was justified. Hostility, enmity, division…all the selfish manifestations that build systems for human advantage have been destroyed.
Racism is destroyed by Christ’s body.
Greed is destroyed by Christ’s body.
Hypocrisy is destroyed by Christ’s body.
The law is destroyed by Christ’s body.
Anything that opposes the peace Christ’s body established must be fought with love and that love will avenge, repay, respond, and reclaim.
Check your heart and then respond with love.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.