October 25, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: Paradoxes

Somebody once asked me if I knew what a paradox was. I told them, “Sure! It’s when two doctors are standing side by side!” (Pair of Doc’s!)  (Boo!  Bad joke, bad joke!)

The official definition of a paradox is: “A statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.”

In Matthew 16:25(KJV), Jesus teaches one of the great paradoxes in the Bible when He says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

It’s strange. Jesus is teaching that if we try to discover the meaning of life on our own, we will never discover the life He intends for us to have.

However, if we surrender everything about our lives to Him, then, and only then, can we begin to discover the life He wants us to live. This means that the only way to win is to surrender; if we want to go up we must give up, and the only way to secure a firm grip on our destiny is by releasing our grip to God.  Paradoxes!

Sometimes the things we think make us weak are the very things that God uses to make us strong and the things we think disqualify us from God’s service are the very things that uniquely qualify us!  Sometimes, as Pastor Kyle Idleman says, “Our ‘disqualifier’ becomes our ‘qualifier.’”

Chuck Colson, who went to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, is a great example of what I’m talking about.

In a sermon he wrote entitled, “The Gravy Train Gospel,” Colson states, “The great paradox also is that every time I walk into a prison and see the faces of men or women who have been transformed by the power of the living God, I realize that the thing God has chosen to use in my life, paradoxical though this will seem, is none of the successes, achievements, degrees, awards, honors, cases I won before the Supreme Court. That’s not what God’s using in my life. What God is using in my life to touch the lives of literally thousands of other people is the fact that I was a convict and went to prison. My great defeat. The only thing in my life I didn’t succeed in.”

What a testimony Colson gives!  He is saying that God took his greatest failure and made it his greatest success.

In 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 & 10, the Apostle Paul says it like this, “… for my strength is made perfect in weakness …”  “… for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Paul understood the paradox of God. He realized that through the Providence of God his great weakness was also his great strength and his disqualifier was his qualifier.

So, what is your great weakness? Do you think it disqualifies you? If so, you may want to examine the characters in the Bible that God used. Abraham was a liar, Jacob was a swindler, Noah got drunk, Moses had a bad temper, was a murderer, and he stuttered, King David was a womanizer, Rahab was a harlot, and on and on I could go.

The truth is that the Bible is filled with imperfect people that God used for His perfect work. Now, does this mean that we should go do something sinful so God can use us? No! A thousand times no! But what it does mean is that we are part of the great paradox of redemption.

The Sinless One chose to become sin so that we, the sinful, may have salvation through Him. Here’s the paradox: He chose me when I didn’t choose Him, He continues to choose me, and He uses me despite my failures. What a paradox. What a Savior!

Brother Aaron

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