A Beautiful Paradox

The real beauty of Christianity stems firstly from the grace and glory of our Lord, and perhaps secondly from the many paradoxes it seems to inherently contain. Consider human history’s ultimate act of mercy: the brutal torture and killing of an innocent man who turned out to be God.

During Calvary Baptist’s young adults Bible Study last night, I made a few statements that probably raised a few eyebrows. Statements like, “There’s some ugly stuff in here,” pointing at the Bible. At first pass, saying such a thing may seem surprising, but when considering it, I would hope you would agree!

Blasphemy, idolatry, wars, disease, slavery, abuse, murder, rape – it’s all there. It’s interesting to note that the Bible is simultaneously the most graphic, yet most beautiful work of literature in human history. But that should come as no surprise to the Christian. God wrote it!

And when you think about it, Christianity is full of these seemingly contradictory conditions. The Bible depicts in graphic detail the deep depravity of the human condition, yet offers a majestic solution. The God we serve is as jealous and judgmental towards sin as he is loving and merciful towards his creation. And don’t get me started on the Trinity.

You see, Christianity is full of paradoxes: those things that seem contradictory, but instead are as true as they are beautifully inexplicable. The great writer and apologist C.S. Lewis said something very poignant in this regard.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” author said, “Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies – these over simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.”

“A religion you could not have guessed.” – how mightily true that statement is! Who could have ever thought up a faith so beautifully paradoxical in its intricacies? Who could have ever dreamed up the triunity of God? The beautiful ugliness of the Bible? Incarnate deity sent to earth to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins?

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the ugliest thing that has ever happened in human history. A sinless, shameless, and wholly righteous man who lived his entire 30 years selflessly serving others – whipped, beaten, maimed, and pierced by the very people He intended to save. At the end of his life, Jesus was alone. He was naked. He was scorned. And he was bludgeoned far beyond recognition. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

But that’s not the end of the story. God, in his infinite wisdom, had more in store. He, three days later, took the ugliest tragedy to ever occur and turned it into the universe’s most glorious triumph. And a beautiful one at that! Has anyone ever seen something so awe-inspiring as our Lord ascending into Heaven?

But the true magnificence of Christ’s paradoxical death extends far beyond anything that can be seen. It reaches deep into the depths of the human heart – in all its wickedness, evilness, and depravity. And it still shines as bright and cleanses as purely as ever. The blood of Jesus Christ is just as powerful today as it was on that cross two millennia ago. You can count on that.

How amazing is it that, as humans, we don’t have to understand? In short, Christianity is a faith about not just what you know, but who you know! Sure, memorizing Scripture helps. Knowing theology is important. But once someone has an encounter with the King of Kings, something miraculous happens. And all the details begin to fall into place.

Today I’m thankful that we don’t have to understand, but to trust. Christianity may be full of paradoxes, but we can rest assured that they’re not contradictions. They are just those beautiful “twists” C.S. Lewis talked about.

And how beautiful indeed they are.


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