The Paradoxes Of God

By Reid M. Davis

Dear fellow pilgrims,

Have you ever noticed the delight God seems to take in putting together that which doesn’t seem to belong together?
Perhaps I’m imagining things, but I seem to see a pattern in this. Here are some examples.

Justice/mercy: We understand that God is just but that He is also merciful. All men are guilty of sin. Justice
demands their condemnation. Mercy desires that they be able to escape condemnation. God does not exercise only justice or only mercy or even a balance between them (i.e. He is not partly just and partly merciful). Rather He designed a way to be greatly merciful while remaining fully just. Namely, He sent His own Son to bear the penalty for our sins in order that all who believe in Him should be saved. Thus God put justice and mercy together to form one thing, a whole, which we call the Gospel–the Good News.

Law/grace: God gave us both law and grace. They certainly seem to oppose one another–so much so that the
apostle Paul wrote at great length (by God’s direction) to sort them out for us. The result? Law and grace are both
good and both of God, and together they tell us of God’s salvation. We are saved by grace, but it was the law that
showed us our need for grace and pointed out the form in which grace would come (namely Christ).

Authority/service: Those who will lead must be servants, and He who will be greatest must be least of all. This was most clearly expressed in Christ, Who, being God, yet became the lowliest of servants for our sake.

God/man: Surely it would be hard to find a contrast greater than that between God and man. Yet when God came into the world He did so as the man Jesus–fully God and fully man.

Death/life: He who is Life, Jesus, died, so that we who were born dying might live forever.

The church: When God saved us, He didn’t make us all the same. Rather, He made us all different, giving us all
different gifts, abilities, and insights, and then said, “You are all one in Christ. You, with all your differences, all together form the one Body of Christ.”

Man/woman: Marriage would certainly make more sense if it involved two men or two women–they would understand each other so much better. Yet God calls this perversion. When He brought the man a helper, He brought a different kind of creature–a woman. She, like the man, was created in God’s image, yet she was decidedly different from the man. And it is of the union of these two different creatures that God says, “The two shall become one flesh.”

The list certainly doesn’t stop here. Matters such as faith/works, weakness/strength (e.g. when I am weak then I
am strong), free will/predestination, wisdom/foolishness (e.g. the foolishness of God is wiser…) show the same
pattern. In each case we see two or more “conflicting principles” combined not simply by balance or compromise but
rather by a reconciliation which embraces them both (or all) completely–a “new creature”.

Now why do you suppose God likes to work in such a fashion? Well I don’t know, but I have a couple ideas. The
first is that these sorts of paradoxes (I think a more proper word is “antinomies”, but I’ll avoid that in favor of
a word we know! 🙂 ) are hard (perhaps impossible) to sort through rationally. Thus the God who has determined that men, by their own wisdom, will not know Him (see passages like I Cor. chapter 1) reveals His workings in ways that tend to baffle the educated and the thinkers but that often seem to make perfectly good sense to children. He shrouds His truth in paradoxes so that we can find it only by humbly seeking Him.

Further, I think this way of working reflects the very nature of God. He is, after all, a Trinity–one God and
three persons. Here there is no conflict between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but all of each of these three persons
is together the one true God. Each is God, and together they are God–our God. If this, then, is the nature of our
God, it is probably not surprising that the revelation of His truth reflects that nature.

Our God is indeed wonderful in His ways and works. Let us all strive to know Him better.

Your fellow pilgrim,
Reid M. Davis

{A message posted by Reid Davis on the Christian Living discussion group on BITNET on April 26, 1990)