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A Powerful Paradox Outside the Box!

Stan Gleason writes about a note found at the bottom of an office memo: "If you have any questions, please read again" (Reader's Digest, 3/03, p 127). The Bible often proves to be a book that needs to read again, not because it is super-difficult to understand, but because we sometimes read it too casually. Some refuse to read the Bible claiming it contradicts itself The real reason the Bible does not easily sink into many people's heads and hearts is not because it contradicts itself, but rather because it contradicts them. First Corinthians 1: 18 illustrates this truth by saying, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The message that the powerful God who created the world chose to redeem us from sin through suffering and a cross proves too much for some people to swallow, not because it is too big but because it is too bitter. That message seems absurd and runs counter to the wisdom of men. It is, in technical terms, a paradox. A paradox is defined as follows: "a self-contradictory statement that may be true; an opinion that conflicts with common beliefs. " To benefit from studying the Bible we have to learn to "think outside the box." Outside the box of man's wisdom, that is. That doesn't mean parking your brain and accepting that which is unreasonable and illogical. It simply means we must realize that the six or eight inches of brain matter between our ears is not omnipotent. There may be human ways of thinking and looking at things which are popular but also potentially harmful The Bible reminds us to think outside the box when it says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" and "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says  the LORI). For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 55:8-9).

Mark 8:35 records  a powerful paradox which requires us to think outside the box of human wisdom. Jesus taught, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Jesus stated this after discovering His disciples had been arguing about which of them was greatest. The now popular genre of TV programming known as "reality TV" is an example of the competitive, win at all costs, "I'm better than you are" type of rivalry. Jesus doesn't want His disciples to be losers or last. He wants us to be first - but winning His way requires us to think and function with a radically different point of view! Jesus dropped us a memo on how to be first in Mark 9:35. If you have any questions, please read again.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ