I’m in love with a king who became a slave.
I’m in love with a God who is humble.
You gotta go down, if you wanna go up.
You’ve gotta go lower, if you wanna go higher and higher.
You’ve gotta hide, and do it in secret, if you wanna be seen by God.
It’s the inside, outside, upside down kingdom,
where you lose to gain, and you die to live.
I love the lyrics to this song by Misty Edwards: Servant of All
Have you ever noticed how much of the Bible seems to have a paradoxical nature? I’m not saying that the Bible contradicts itself; I don’t think Jesus is bipolar. I’m saying that, the ways of God seem to be the stark opposite of our ways a lot of the time. It’s like watching a movie were there are two realms: 1)right-side up heaven, and 2)upside down earth.
Paradox: Hide to be seen
Misty used some great examples of the paradoxical nature of Christianity in her song. Let’s look at those examples, and some others in scripture, and try to understand why everything seems so backwards to us:
Matthew 6:16-18 – And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
People, by nature, want to be honored and get attention from others. It’s okay to want a reward, but we should want it from God not man. It’s not wicked to expect payment for your work. It is wicked to show off to people hoping that they will think you are better than them. Love is not prideful (1 Cor. 13). Fasting is not for man anyway, it’s for God; and we don’t get God’s attention the same way we get mans attention. We’ve got to hide, and do it in secret, if we want to be seen by God.
Paradox: The servant is made king. Least is the greatest. Last is first.
Matt. 23:11-12 – The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
The one who cuts others down, will be cut down, and the one who builds others up, will be built up. It’s natural for us to try to build ourselves up, by cutting others down – forcing our way into leadership, but that’s not God’s way. God is Spirit. Man is flesh. His ways are higher than our ways (Is.55:8). God says instead to humble yourself, build others up, and then they will build you up and you will have a strong following. Would you rather follow a leader who is clearly in it for personal gain, or one who is doing what is best for the workers?
Philippians 2:5-11 – You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges… he humbled himself… and died… Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth
Jesus, who was God, humbled Himself, and stepped down from His kingship to become a slave to sin and death. His willingness to die caused billions of people to live. God therefore, elevated Him to the place of highest honor.
Luke 17:33 – If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.
We now have the choice of whether we will: 1)briefly die to our own desires, so that God will exalt us with Christ and give us eternal life, or whether 2)we will live briefly in our own desires, and lose our eternal life.
Matt. 4:8-10 – the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
Jesus had the option to cling onto His own life. He could have gone ahead and stepped into His kingship, without dying on the cross. He probably preferred the idea, but Jesus realized that if He stepped into His kingship prematurely, without the hard work of dying to Himself, there would be dire consequences. He would have been eternally separated from His father, and He would have led the nations to battle, killing many of the people who He instead chose to save, help, heal, and deliver by being obedient to God’s timing/ways. Though it sometimes seems counterproductive, or contradictory, the best way to get the desires of your heart is to ‘let them die’ and hand over control to God. He will give you the desires of your heart, far exceeding what you could’ve expected or done for yourself.
Paradox: Lose your life, gain the world
Satan desired to be exalted to a higher level. He saw God make man in His image and Satan got mad about it. He wanted our position, so he cut us down for it. In doing so, Satan condemned himself to eternity in hell. If he had instead, humbled his desires, and served mankind, God probably would’ve raised him up to a new level of authority.
Ps. 37:4, 7, 9, 35-36, 38 – Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways… those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land… I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more… there will be no future for the wicked.
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money… some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
How many movie stars and millionaires have we seen that commit suicide? Have you met people who were rich, who were still miserable? Most people desire a life of comfort; it’s natural for us to look to money for that comfort, but God says true happiness and comfort come from enjoying your hard work and by giving to others.
Matt. 6:31-33 – So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt . 7:7-11 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
It’s when we stop trying to build up ourselves, and start trying to build up God’s kingdom, that God gives us what we need and want. If it’s God that makes us unique, and puts desires in our hearts, then its Gods job to bring us the fulfillment of those desires.
Paradox: Stop looking to find
– Gen. 2:19-22 – Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Did you notice that it says no helper was found for Adam while he was looking among the animals? Why was he looking for a helper in the animals? Sounds like modern America to me! We should be looking for someone made in God’s image, not a wild beast of a person. But even still, it was when Adam quit looking that God brought him a suitable helper. Not by our works, but by His grace He gives good gifts to those who love Him.
Paradox: Jesus is the Tree of Life
Jesus: the Tree of Life. I love the paradox of Christianity.
Jesus' death, on a tree,
brought Life for all the world to see!
Enter into me,
O, Jesus, who died on Calvary.
You died in front of all the world,
yet your Spirit lives inside of me.
Let the world see that you live, you breathe;
you came back with 'God speed'.
Wisest of the Wise,
you confound everyone –
The wisdom of the world
is folly to the One,
Who with a paradox
caused us fools to know,
That the battle has been won;
we can rest in Him who's shown:
That in death, you have true life.
and in service, you become king;
And to deny our own power,
is to sprout God's very wings.
The Spirit's gifts
are for everyone to partake;
I am wholly yours,
make a fool of me and take:
All the lies,
and all the works of man –
Burn them up,
billow and fan.
God is Spirit,
and God is Love,
He lives in every man!
Not by my might, nor by power,
but by My Spirit, says the Lord –
Go into the world,
and knock on every door!
He who hears My voice and opens
shall surely say:
Jesus, you are my hope;
the only Truth,
the only Way!
– 1 Cor. 1:25 – For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Paradox: We can’t save ourselves, but God can save us. When we accept God, God comes to live inside of us. … you’re so weird God ❤
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