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A Contradiction

“Jesus said to everyone, ‘All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.  All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them.’ “(Luke 9:23, 24 Common Bible Translation)


Merely on the face of it, Christianity seems a series of contradictions and surprises. This faith is counterintuitive if you look through lenses ground and made here on earth.


Now, what do we mean here when we say counterintuitive? We are saying from the perspective of this present age or cosmos/world system, as scripture deems it, it is humanly senseless.  Christianity is predicated on the idea that we are servants to Jesus, not rulers and that we do not fight to dominate the world because our ‘weapon’ if you must use the term is self-sacrificial love. Looking through the lenses made on this Earth, How can you win if you follow the instructions of our elder brother Jesus? Have you read Matthew chapters five through seven? You know what I am referring to: That section in the early part of Matthew’s gospel that is solid red for pages? Let’s look at the beatitudes…


“Blessed (literally ‘happy are those’) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5). By meekness we mean gentleness, self –effacing humility is concerned not with our earthly position or attempting to climb the social/ economic and power ladder. This makes no sense through the lenses of this world.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

(Matthew 5:10-12). Being righteous? We are not talking about priggishness, deliberately striving to set ourselves apart in the most unflattering or stupid ways. The true Righteousness we are called to is born out of love for a redeemer and our fellow humans; it is not trying to show everyone else up in how you adhere to your personal standard of holiness. In other words true Righteousness and Holiness stems from God producing Christ in us. Writing the script for our own version of holiness is often at the expense of kindness and grace.


Persecution should only come from our adherence to the standard: Christ is Lord, and all that it fully implies. It is one thing to face persecution in Pakistan for being a believer (many have been martyred) but another to be reviled because we stupidly make assertions about the end of times that contradict the clear teaching of Jesus. The message of the Gospel does not ask us to check our brain at the door or allow others to do our thinking. It is ungodly to trumpet stupidity and call it divine revelation.

If we respond christianly to persecution for Jesus’ sake we produce a watermark of Christianity that is visible to those in this world around us. To view this through the lens of the world, it makes no sense that we would allow ourselves to suffer. Indeed, in our American culture we treat suffering like wolfs bane and do everything possible to avoid it. This world system that worships power or the money that can buy power cannot see any advantage to any type of sacrifice for genuine Truth; especially a sacrifice that involves death. The point is that the world system does not understand sacrifice as the true pathway it is. In this the paradoxes come into play. Gentleness and Truth has the moral power to break the power of sin and evil just as ice can break rock. Death is not a loss but a victory for we are told in Romans “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)


We conquer through death…this is God’s economy not this present world’s. We win through death; the first death is to ourselves.


Copyright © 2011 Brian Bailey, Author