Paul teaches that salvation comes solely by faith (Romans 3:22-26). Yet James said that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Paul tells us that our flesh has been crucified with Christ - Past tense! But then he urges us to "put to death the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13, NKJV) on an ongoing basis.
So which one is it? you may ask. Which is true? Which one do I do?
The answer, I believe, is often... both. Both are true. And we must do both.
If your even more confused now here's an explanation that may help.
In eastern Montana, farmers and ranchers often plant trees as windbreaks. But in order for a young tree to survive the winter blasts as well as the summer heat of the prairie wind, the farmer has to stake off the tree. So he ties four strings to the trunk and then drives stakes deep in the ground at the four corners - east, west, north, and south. Then the wind can howl, but the little tree, held secure by the tension between the four strings, won't fall.
I believe God has built the same kind of four-cornered "holy tension" into His Word. Because we humans tend towards extremes, swinging to far in one direction and then veering way too far in the other, God wrote balance points into Scripture. Principles that appear contradictory at first glance, but - when followed - help us grow straight and tall, strong and deep.
As I continue to live the mystery of these scriptural paradoxes, I'm beginning to find they make perfect sense. More important, the very contradictions that stretch my mind are the ones that change me most deeply.
And isn't change the whole point?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I've heard a common thread of misunderstanding from certain people in the past who were struggling with the thought of Christianity. They had either heard or read bits of scriptures scattered through out the bible and felt it was all a big contradiction. Unfortunately these presumed inconsistencies seem to give them the permission they needed to drop their inquiries into Christianity. Joanna Weaver addresses Scriptures that seem to contradict each other so perfectly in her book "Having a Mary Spirit"...