Abiding in Christ involves more than trusting him for salvation; it includes living intimately attuned to his presence within me. By his Spirit, Christ and I are one. My eyes are now our eyes; my mouth is now ours; my hands, my feet are ours. Though he lives in heaven, Jesus continues the ministry he began two thousand years ago. Through me, Jesus continues reconciling people with the Father. It’s a noble endeavor, but an arduous one – one that hurls me headlong into awkwardness and scrutiny. Obedience to the indwelling Christ makes me a living paradox.
Reading the Sermon on the Mount and hearing Kent M. Keith’s “Paradoxical Commandments” in my ear, I understand more of the paradoxical nature of abiding in Christ.
Crooked people reduce goodness in order to elevate crookedness. Jesus shows his righteous goodness through me anyway (Matt 5.10-11).
People adhering to the Old Covenant reject anyone’s refusal to submit to it. Jesus emphasizes his New Covenant anyway (v5.20, 6.1).
People hurt me, piercing my soul and then picking at the scabs. Jesus allows me to forgive and reconcile anyway (v5.9, 21-24; 6.14-15, 22-23).
I am a sexual being living in a highly-sexualized society. Jesus guards my sexual purity anyway (v5.27-30).
Spouses frustrate and injure. Jesus fights for your marriage anyway (v5.31-32).
Honesty rarely wins Facebook friends. Jesus speaks truth through me anyway (v5.37).
When God seems distant, I sometimes resort to performance and perfectionism. Jesus embraces me; he asks me to come away and just pray, anyway (v 6.5-8).
Sometimes the world entices me to invest in sure-sounding plans that promise quick dividends. Jesus re-focuses me on eternity anyway (v6.9-21, 24).
Somtimes I cannot afford the things I think I need to live a life I want to lead and impress people I’ll never meet. Jesus reveals the providence of God anyway (v6.25-34).
Though aware of my shortcomings, the temptation toward spiritual pride persists. Jesus helps me respond to others in humility anyway (v7.1-5).
To proclaim the Gospel is to invite some form of persecution. Jesus provides discernment and courage to proclaim the Gospel anyway (v7.6).
Prosperity gospel requires God to act according to human wisdom and in response to a certain type of faith. Jesus values intimacy, so even when I can’t muster great faith or understand an unanswered prayer, I can always commune with him anyway (v7.7-11, 15-23).
Abiding in Christ is sometimes scary and usually perplexing. Jesus protects and directs me as he builds his Kingdom through me anyway (v7.24-27).
People are irrational, oblivious, and immoral. Through me, Jesus loves them as and where they are anyway (v5.12).
Christians are paradoxical. The breath of the divine fills our fragile lungs. The Word of God is mysteriously and eternally etched into our hearts. The Spirit of God fills and transforms our ordinary lives. And, as we abide in him, he enables us to interact with a world and people in paradoxical ways. We love people and life and God. Anyway.
In what ways do you feel like a living paradox in your journey with Christ?