A friend of mine wrote that a few years ago. His name is Pastor Peter Kurowski and we went to school together. He gives some of the great paradoxes that Paul penned –
Ephesians 1:3- Paul warns the Elect to watch out lest they fall -1 Corinthians 10:12.
1 Corinthinas 5:5 – consigning a man to the Devil so that he might be saved.
2 Corinthians 12:10 – telling folks that in Christ when they are the weakest they are the strongest.
Examples abound of paradox for Lutherans – we are baptized into a death so that we might live, we gain happiness by trying to give it away, the last are first and the Lord’s of all are the servants of all. It’s everywhere. Pastor Kurowshi even had a little poetry in his article “cursed is He that dies on a tree becomes salvation for you and me” – Galatians 3:13 (see “Paradoxical Pathways” Concordia Pulpit Resources Volume 11, part 3.)
Folks in my church maybe get sick of hearing me say that you cannot be a Lutheran unless you can live with paradoxes. It is not always easy but it is revealing of how we think and feel. We want absolutes unless it comes to the absolute damnation of the Law. We, at least some of the people that I talk to, believe that a gracious God would never consign anyone to hell and yet they will deny a baby baptizmal grace. We want to be justified by grace but we don’t want to believe that it is totally a gift and that I don’t produce at least some it. And we are the same way with our mercy. We desperately want God to be merciful to us and yet when a neighbor needs our mercy and forgiveness we are often grabbing him by the neck to get what we want.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant shows the paradoxical nature of our life. A man who owed millions of dollars of debt had it forgiven him and left the place of forgivenss and saw someone who owed him a few bucks. Jesus goes on – “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.” Matthew 18:28.
The great paradox of those who are in Christ is that once they come to know that forgiveness is theirs, they stop thinking about what is theirs and concern themselves with others.