Kingdom Principle: The Kingdom of God is a Paradox.
|1 Samuel 1:4-20 1 Samuel 2:1-10||Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25||Mark 13:1-8|
The word paradox is often used describe situations that are ironic which appear to be in conflict yet are not. It is a paradox that a person simply standing with tire faster than a person exerting energy to walk. A. W. Tozer has captured well the paradox of our faith. “A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be filled; admits he is wrong so he cannot be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible; and knows that which passes knowledge.” As we journey through the Scriptures we are discovering the principles of the Kingdom of God. Over the next two weeks we are closing out the season called “After Pentecost” as well as the end of Year B. (there are 3 years, A,B & C to the lectionary calendar.) The lectionary approach to the Scriptures is not a ladder to climb, rather it is much more of a paradox. The more you read and study Scriptures, the more you discover that you have only begun to scratch the surface of its depth and treasure. The Bible is not a simple set of principles by which believers base their life. The Bible is a living document, through which we are invited into deeper relationship with the Living Word that became flesh – that is Jesus. It is no surprise then that the Kingdom of the King (Jesus) is itself a paradox as well. Any attempt to reduce the Kingdom to Principles will lead you back down the path of obedience and Obedience will bring you to the door. However – as we have seen Obedience is not enough, and submission is required. It is required because without paradox, then faith is obsolete. Therefore – The Kingdom is not ours to solve or reduce to simple patterns of life. The Kingdom is bigger than this world, yet resides within in us. It is before us all as an expression of faith, placing our trust in the King, and exists because God has given us faith in the first place. In this season of year B – After Pentecost (May-November 2015) we have wrestled with the depth of the paradox that Kingdom Servants are Leaders, and knowing what to do, leads you to stop doing. Faith and Prayer are the ultimate paradoxes of the Kingdom leading both to change us, as well as to change the way we see ourselves.
This week we return to the beginning of 1 Samuel to hear the story of Hannah a kingdom servant who’s prayer changes everything – she is barren, and therefore shamed and shunned. Yet, Hannah is loved by her husband, and Hannah cries to the Lord for a child, and then immediately promises to dedicate and give the child to the priest to raise – yielding her again without child. The Prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2 demonstrates the reality of paradox that lays the foundation for the Kingdom of God on earth. There is even a paradox in the fact that the priest accused Hannah of being drunk as she is so passionately praying to the Lord. The disciples ask Jesus in Mark 13 – to help them to understand the signs of the times… and yet the answer they seek is still not given. The answer is captured in Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” And because of this truth – the Kingdom is opened and we move forward in submission to Jesus – for he is our Great Priest, Prophet and King. Paradox is a part of our lives, and it is not to be solved, it is to be embraced. To further understand the paradox’s of our time – from a perspective of this world –watch the video…. http://youtu.be/Lru9i0Za-q8.
Embracing Paradox is not achieving on our first step into the Kingdom. Rather that is the beauty of the Kingdom – it is a journey that has many steps. These steps uncovering our Patterns that produce our Paradigms in order that we may practice our Principles as an expression of Worship.
- Pattern: A repeated way of approach or process
- Hannah feels shame due to barrenness
- Paradigm: Way of viewing reality and understanding the implications of a pattern
- God is punishing Hannah
- Principle: A determining characteristic or rule yielding direction in any paradigm
- Prayer changes things.
- Paradox: When principles conflicts within shared paradigm, creating a new pattern.
- Hannah’s prayer is answered, revealing her as righteous not rejected. Yet she remains without a child as she “surrenders” him to the priest to raise.
- Hannah’s son Samuel (out of barrenness) will inaugurate the first Kingdom of God to this earth, Mary’s son Jesus (out of virginity) will incarnate the true Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.
So what shall we do: Embrace Paradox and Confront Chaos (hence the name of this blog)….
Chaos is to be without order under the rule of a Tyrant. This is only confronted with Peace. To have Peace is the key to be able to embrace paradox. Our Principles guide us, even when it requires faith to make a leap of understanding. As the disciples wanted a clear answer – what they were given by Jesus was, hold fast and don’t be alarmed. Hannah wanted a child, but more than that she wanted to be heard by God.
Today let us not be driven by a pursuit of answers, rather let us pursue Jesus as the answer. Freely we have received, so free we are to give.
Where are you embracing paradox in your life? Where you struggle to see this – you may be confronted with a desire to control. Our desire to control is challenged by paradox. You cannot control while moving through paradox. Therefore, the more you embrace paradox, the more you surrender control. Hence why the Kingdom is a paradox.