A Most Amusing Paradox

It occurred to me today why so many people consider Christians to be stark raving mad. We talk like we’re contradicting ourselves. We say one thing and then say the exact opposite. Or do we?

The example in mind is the difference between blessings on Earth and treasures in Heaven. On the one hand, you have pastors and teachers showing Bible verse after Bible verse about how God wants to bless our earthly lives and gives all kinds of good things. They say we should seek after and enjoy these wonderful gifts from God.

Then you have the other group which gives a list of verses saying that we should focus on doing things that have eternal significance and forget about being comfortable or having stuff here on Earth.

No wonder the world thinks we’re nuts!

The paradox is that both are equally true, valid, and applicable. We should enjoy what’s here and we should seek what’s to come. We should never crave physical stuff and we should never get so wrapped up in Heaven that we forget that we’re currently stationed on Earth.

Both of these concepts are talking about the exact same thing, and that’s where most people pull a muscle in the ol’ gray matter.

Neither concept is about stuff. Neither concept is about rewards. Not really. Let me paint a quick analogy.

Two people have watched a movie. One person goes on and on about the characters and how they interacted and how the story moved along. The other talks only about the directing, the technique of the actors, the filmography, and the special effects. They say different things, and neither thinks the other saw the most important part of the show.

But they are both talking about the same thing: the movie they saw. They both enjoyed it, and they both pulled from the same experience to express their unique delights. Their focus is on the movie; their discussion is on how it impacted them.

The Blessed Life and Crazy Love may seem to be on opposite sides of the tracks from each other, but they are talking about the same thing: drawing near to God. You can draw near to God through His blessings here on Earth, and you can draw near to God by using your earthly resources for eternal investments. In fact, you ought to be doing both at the same time.

We tend to be either-or beings. We think that we can do either one thing or another thing, but not both. We can do either one action or another action, but not both. And if things don’t line up perfectly, we say they are mutually exclusive. How little we know.

The point Robert Morris makes is that a life devoted to God and focused on His kingdom reaps great rewards. The point Francis Chan makes is that a life devoted to God and focused on His kingdom reaps great rewards. The point, friends and neighbors, is to draw near on God.

Are you concerned about your finances? Then you’re not focused on God. Are you so desperate for Heaven that you shun everything here on Earth? Then you’re not focused on God. God gives wealth and He takes it away, and both actions are His to make. Jesus embraced the people who killed Him, betrayed Him, and who could not return even a fraction of the love He poured on them. People like you and me.

God gives us physical stuff so that we will praise Him. God tells us to give up that physical stuff so that we will praise Him. Use what God gives you to do the things that Jesus did. Accept what God gives you and then give it right back to Him. It’s not about having money or cars or clothes or vacations or jobs or safety or a good reputation. It’s about a reckless, abandoned love that leads to a fulfilled, blessed life. It’s about the God Who defies our understanding and brings Himself down so that we can know Him.

Is that not a most amusing paradox?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rose's Ink Well
    May 12, 2011 @ 02:01:04

    God gives us things because He loves us. Don’t deny Him the joy of blessing you so you can feel like a good little martyr. On the other extreme, don’t accept His affection as merely your due and leave Him with a simple kthxbai. God gives to us so that we can give to others. Enjoy the expressions of God’s love and share the bounty with others.

    Reply

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