Christianity brings to the surface the paradoxes of life in very powerful ways. We are called to live in the tension of these paradoxes and it is in resolving this tension that we fall into trouble. I think the greatest evidence for this is the person of Jesus- fully man and fully God. This is a logical impossibility you can’t have an object be 100% iron and 100% water. Jesus as the picture of God and the Truth itself offers us an impossible paradox as a grand demonstration of the paradoxes that we live in. Two of the main paradoxical themes that run through Christianity are free will verses predestination and earthly living vs heavenly living, but there are many.
Adam Gerow wonderfully talked about Kierkegaard’s influence on Christianity and psychology. As a huge fan of Kierkegaard (my blog is named after a quote of his), I was thrilled to read Gerow’s response on Quora (an online question and answer resource). He sort of described Kierkegaard as a Christian Socrates, he “provokes more often than he proves.” He beautifully contrasts Kierkegaard to the modern Christian best sellers that “give lists of instructions, packaged with sales blurbs that taut clear guidance and practical advice.” As Rilke has said, we need to learn to love the questions rather than the answers.
Live life to the point of tears- Camus
The paradox here is the tension between wisdom and courage. The parable of the talents seems to spur us on to courage. I believe it was Chesterton that said “I came to preach comfort to the afflicted and affliction to the comforted.” There are those that need to embrace courage and others who need to embrace the caution that comes from wisdom. That is the amazing thing about life- we live in a sea of paradoxes that can never be resolved. I life of caution will bring regret and paucity, but a life of courage will also bring its share of regret and scars.
Annis said, “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to our courage.” I know this to be absolutely true. As a therapist I’ve seen people live in tiny little worlds. To those whose worlds are too small, whose elbows are scraping against the walls of their lives- it’s time. It’s time to get in touch with the fire within your soul and act in courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear, its action in spite of it. Like Gideon whose fear kept him cowering in a wine vat, it is time to hear the voice of God who sees you as a champion and believes in the gifts that He has already placed inside of you. We cannot wait for God to do what He has already empowered us to do.
Kierkegaard states, “Let others complain that the times are wicked. I complain that they are paltry; for they are without passion. The thoughts of men are thin and frail like lace, and they themselves are feeble…It is therefore my soul ever returns to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. There at least one feels that one is dealing with men and women; there one hates and loves, there one murders one’s enemy and curses his issue through all generations—there one sins.” He has a fascinating way of engaging and challenging us to passionate living.
He reminds me of T.S. Eliot’s poem the Hollowmen, the men of which the poem speaks were just that- hollow. They were stuck in a sort of limbo place because they were neither good nor bad, but people caught forever in indecision, accomplishing nothing.
So to borrow the angel’s word to Gideon, “Go in this thy might, the Lord is with you!” Live life with passion.