A google search for paradox examples will give you…
- Your enemy’s friend is your enemy.
- I am nobody.
- “What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw.
- Wise fool.
- Truth is honey, which is bitter.
- “I can resist anything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21
These are different from oxymorons such as, open secret, larger half, clearly confused. Paradoxes are not really intended to be funny. They are, rather express truths that seem to be contradictory. A few worthy paradoxes:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all. These two theses seem to contradict each other. If, however, they should be found to fit together they would serve our purpose beautifully. – Martin Luther
The Trinity: the three persons of the Godhead are distinct, and each is fully God, yet there is only one God
The Incarnation: the transcendent, immutable God became a man in space and time
The hypostatic union: Christ is one person with both a divine nature and a human nature, and thus is omniscient and limited in knowledge, omnipresent and limited in location, impeccable yet susceptible to temptation, etc.
The grave danger regarding these and other theological paradoxes is that we lose faith because they are not easily resolved. The temptation to do so comes because we don’t want to admit that we’re not God or that we cannot comprehend the mysteries of God.
For whatever reason I find little need to resolve paradoxes. I am content to have things remain a mystery. That Jesus is true God and true man, or that God is Triune, or that I’m truly free and completely a servant: I am content to ponder these truths without demanding that they sit comfortably in my mind. Or as I like to say, I’m thankful that I cannot comprehend the mystery of the triune nature of God. If I could understand God, we would have a puny God!
What paradox do you need to embrace? Might it be that God loves you but doesn’t exempt you from suffering and difficulty? Is it that we are saved by God’s grace, but called to sacrifice and love one another sacrificially? Is it that God calls on us to seek to understand him as fully as possible, but that he is incomprehensible in his nature and ways?
We may know precious little about God, but the little we know is precious! Letting go of these or other paradoxes of our faith will result in a loss of the treasure of God’s truth that keeps us faithfully humble.