Spiritual Tensions

I used to think I had God and faith all figured out–I knew what God liked and didn’t like. I knew what pleased Him and what didn’t. I knew what He would do and not do. I had all the answers–or, at least, most of them. As I study Hebrew, I see the awesome depth and beauty of  Scripture, and there are many things that were confusing to me that I understand more. However, the more I learn about God and experienced life with Him, the more I realize that God is so much MORE than I ever imagined: more awesome, more incomprehensible, more immense, more surprising. I realize don’t have all the answers of how He ought, should, and will act–I can only sit back with my jaw opened in amazement. Before, He was safe. But now I realize, to quote the Beaver in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, that though He is utterly GOOD, He is definitely not safe. He can’t be contained in my little “box” of expectations.

Opposite Truths

One of the things I’ve been thinking about for several years is the thought that two seemingly opposite truths can both be true at the same time. I see it all through the Bible. For example, Jesus was God AND man. The Bible was written by men AND inspired by God. God is sovereign AND we also have freewill. God chooses us AND we also choose Him. We are to love sinners AND hate the sin. We must live in freedom AND not let our freedom become a “license to sin.”

I found out later, after I had pondered it for a year or two, that this “opposite but truth” truths is a Hebraic thing. Greek thought has “either/or” beliefs: “either” this is true “or” that is true, but not both.  The Jews, however, believe that two opposite truths can both be true. They are ok with not understanding everything, and with God being “mysterious.” In some book or another (I can’t remember which one) I read that there is a Hebrew phrase that says “These, also, are the words of God” meaning that two opposite things can both be true.

I believe that if we go to an extreme of one belief to the exclusion of the other, we fall into error. For example, if a person hates sin without loving the sinner, he becomes a hateful, judgmental, self-righteous person. However, if he loves the sinner and the sin, he loses his hold on truth and righteousness. Only in standing balanced between loving the sinner AND hating the sin can a person stand firm in truth.

I believe that many centuries of debate in the church, many new denominations, many church splits, have been the result of not understanding that “these, also, are the words of God.” Does God choose us or do we choose Him? Is God a God of justice or mercy? The answer is “yes.”

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