How can that be??? In our house, we have an axiom: the more smoke alarms that go off, the better the meal will be. This could seem counter-intuitive and you might think that I’m actually burning a meal rather than cooking it. But alas, in our house this axiom is very true, along with it’s opposite: no smoke alarms makes for a less-than-tasty meal. The smoke alarm might seem like a competing interest with a well cooked meal.
In our human existence, there often seem to be competing interests. These can include the desire to lose weight that competes with our favorite ice cream, particularly in the Summer. Additionally, some of our interests are complementary, such as being more tech savvy to learn our phone for more diverse usage (QR codes, video editing, grocery lists, etc.).
When we think about conflicting interests or values, it can be difficult to reconcile what can seem to be irreconcilable. This can get all the more challenging when we look at the Bible and what can seem to be conflicting values. In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at some really important biblical values and consider the tension of these values that can seem to be counter-intuitive. Here are three examples of what could seem like conflicting interests. These are important to think about because they influence our choices, daily living and the quality of our connection with Jesus.
Consider these Paradoxes:
- Gain by Losing: In Mark 8:35, Jesus tells us, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Jesus’ words run contrary to human wisdom, which says that the more we work at saving our lives by healthy living, focusing on exercise, diet, comfortable living and even acquisition living, the more we will live – be alive! However, Jesus tells us that we are the most alive when we are losing our lives for Him. I’ve seen this paradox play out in my life innumerable times. I feel the most alive when I’m giving away my life for Jesus!
- Freedom through Responsibility: I don’t have a Bible verse for this paradox, but I see the practical wisdom of this axiom in our human existence–particularly when I was a teenager. In my teen years, I wanted the freedom to go wherever I desired. I quickly learned that this freedom was tethered to my choices to be responsible with car maintenance, a job to earn gas money, timely arrival at home and responsible decisions for how I chose to drive. Having a car when I was 16 years old was part of my learning curve: The greater the freedom, the heavier the responsibility.
- Genuine Love and Free Will: I think this paradox might be the most challenging and important for us to consider. Perhaps it’s most easily seen at the beginning of humanity with God interacting with Adam in the Garden of Eden. For starters, we see God loving Adam by providing for him in creating the whole universe, organizing our planet and populating it with vegetation and animals with God’s culminating creation: Adam. God also gave Adam meaningful work with looking after the Garden of Eden along with naming the animals. The free will part of genuine love can be seen with God’s directive to Adam about not eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God, Who is Genuine Love, didn’t make Adam to be a mindless robot, but rather gave Adam a free will with the choice to obey or disobey what God told him. Just because Adam chose to disobey God doesn’t mean that God stopped loving Adam or that God’s character changed. Genuine love continues to be genuine love no matter what choices we make. At the same time, Genuine love doesn’t always shield us from some of the consequences of our choices. And no matter what, I’m massively grateful that God doesn’t give me what I deserve, nor the full consequences of some of my choices. I’m also grateful that God didn’t make us to be mindless robots and because of God being Genuine love, we have the gift of free will.
So let’s take these paradoxes to heart and appreciate the goodness and faithfulness of God to us:
- We live the richest life when we give our life away.
- We gain the most freedom when we choose to be responsible.
- Genuine Love has given us a free will so that we can live in daily communion with God, with deep intimacy and connection!