Let's talk about paradoxes.
You know what I'm talking about. Paradoxes. Dictionary.com defines a paradox as "a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth." I'm sure you've seen some of these before. They can range from short little terms (like "jumbo shrimp") to larger phrases (such as "I'm just a nobody"). And while many of them are intended to be humorous or silly (like "military intelligence" or "Microsoft Works"), there are just as many that actually carry actual significance.
Here's one I'm sure we're all familiar with: Alpha and Omega. Or this one: the Servant King. Or this: the God-Man. No subtlety here; you guys know what I'm talking about.
Isn't it interesting how the person of Jesus Christ is the embodiment of so many apparent contradictions by who He is? Just think about those three examples above. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega: the first AND the last. Not simply one or the other, but both. He is the Servant King, the highest royalty who stepped down and became the humblest of all. He is the God-Man: fully divine, eternal, and omnipotent; yet fully mortal as every other human throughout all of time. Romans 5 tells us that He is the Last Adam: the last man from whom all other men can be born--born again, that is. And He is the Lion and the Lamb, the meekest of men, yet the mightiest being in existence.
And there are many others. But what strikes me about this is how Jesus' character is so counter-intuitive to anything worldly wisdom would consider "conventional." It's no wonder that the words of Jesus are "folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).
"So the last will be first, and the first last."
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
By all earthly standards, none of this makes any sense. The last should be last! If you're dead, then you're dead! Period! And no person who is humble can ever make it to the top! The Bible is filled with utter nonsense! How can these Christians ever expect to get anywhere following these ridiculous precepts?!
And you know what? The world is right. We can't live by dying, exalt ourselves by being humble, or anything like that. The world doesn't work that way.
Not this world, at least.
See, this is all possible because of one more paradox: this world is not our home. And these works are not our own. Our merit and value stems not from our own deeds, but from One who came before and gives us His perfect record. And because of His great acts of love toward us, we follow in His footsteps by living the same revolutionary life that He lived first.
A.W. Tozer probably put it best:
So the next time that someone tells you that you're just a "backwards person" for being a Christian, thank them for the compliment. And thank your Heavenly Father that Jesus lived that backwards life first, so that, in the end, we could be restored to what we were always intended to be.A.W. Tozer wrote:A real Christian is an odd number, anyway. He feels supreme love for the One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible’ and knows that which passeth understanding.