Christians as Walking Contradictions

Sam Petitfils

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

Most of us have observed Christians who do not live up to their profession, and make themselves a “walking contradiction.”  But the Bible speaks of another sort of “walking contradiction,” one that’s quite positive.

When the pressures of this world bear down on a believer, and the cares and burdens seem too heavy to bear, many Christians give evidence they live by a higher, greater power, the power of God.  In that sense, they live as a “walking contradictions,” being held up by the grace and power of God.  By all appearances, they should give up and possibly grow bitter about life, but instead, they rise above the circumstances giving proof that they do not trust in themselves, but in God who raises the dead.

To be sure, God often leads His children in places and situations where they must lean on Him for strength.  In the verse above (2 Corinthians 4:7), Paul gives the reason: “To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  We have no earthly reason to be joyful in out trials, but we have a heavenly one.  We have no reason to thrive in the midst of tough times, but we have a spiritual one.  We cannot explain our joy in the midst of sorrow, but God can explain it.  He is the one who works all things out for good (Romans 8:28), and will perform that good work in us until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

The word “paradox” means an “apparent contradiction.”  Paul uses paradoxes quite a bit in 2 Corinthians, and He uses it in our head verse above: treasures in jars of clay.  Most would keep their valuables in locked vaults or secure safe deposit boxes, but God keeps His treasure in “jars of clay,” that is our bodies.  Why?  To demonstrate that the power belongs to God and not to us.

This explains in part why the church is not comprised primarily of the high and mighty, the well-known and well-off.  If that were the case, the credit would go to them and not God.  Instead, God chooses the people the world has dismissed as either weak or irrelevant.  These people, however, are far from irrelevant.  They are the wisest people of all.  Why?  Because they recognize their strength resides in God alone.  They do not seek fame or fortune, but rather the grace and strength of God.  They know that in order to become strong, they must become weak (2 Corinthians 12:10).

God uses these “contradictions” to point others to the light.  When people witness Christians under a heavy load yet always rejoicing, they are bound to ask why.  When they behold believers persecuted for righteousness sake, yet moving forward in their faith, they will ask questions.  That provides us with an opportunity to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).

When people call us a walking contradiction, let’s hope they mean people who live by faith, not people who fail to live up to their faith.  Let’s show the world that a greater power exists than the world knows about (1 John 4:4).  Paul’s desire is that we would partake of this power (Ephesians 1:19) and demonstrate to a weak and hopeless world where they can turn to for answers to life’s deepest questions.

 

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