9 Quotes From “Surprised By Paradox”

Jen Pollock Michel has given us a thought-provoking look into her thoughts of some of the and solutions to the either-or challenges many Christians face. Please be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Allowing for paradox does not represent a weakened approach to theological understanding. On the contrary, it allows for a robust theology, one that is filled with the sort of awe that not only regards God as unimaginably wondrous but also awakens in us the same desire Moses had to see Him as He is.” 

“As psychologists have described it, awe is ‘the experience of encountering something so vast—in size, skill, beauty, intensity, etc.—that we struggle to comprehend it and may even adjust our world to accommodate it.’ Awe is our slack-jawed response to natural phenomena like waterfalls and childbirth. To feel awe is to confirm a beautiful, wild universe, a world we neither made nor control. … For those of us inclined to religious belief, awe nurtures our certainty about God.”

“Modernity gave us more certainty than uncertainty—or at the very least certainty in certainty. We’ve come to an unassailable confidence that mystery, by dint of inquiry and scientific effort, can be wrestled and pinned down and made to cry uncle. We are no longer victims of the unknowable: we are masters of our own understanding. The great modern lie is one of infinite human autonomy and control.” 

“It is an old sin seduced by an old lie that we can be like God, perfectly knowing as He knows.… As soon as we think we have God figured out, we will have ceased to worship Him as He is.” 

“I also get tricked into thinking that the world must quiet around me if I mean to meet God. I forget the paradox of the burning bush: that Moses met God at Horeb on an unspectacular day, that his encounter with God was less planned and more happenstance. God did not speak to Moses as the prophet sat cross-legged and silent, his hands folded in reverent to prayer. God blazed up in the landscape of an ordinary Wednesday afternoon. This seems to be how it goes with God: a spiritual life is a material one.” 

“The paradox of God’s story is that He’s chosen to write its timelessness in the ticking heart of His Son and that He’s choosing to write it in our ticking hearts too.” 

“If the kingdom is good news, it surely isn’t safe. Because there is no square inch of our lives Jesus doesn’t intend to rule.” 

“To define grace apart from the Cross would be to say that God is simply given to leniency. It would be to essentially say that there are rules which we break and break badly, but God reassures us kindly that ‘it’s no big deal.’… The Cross speaks a thundering word about the cosmic big deal that is sin.” 

“To receive grace, we need humility. The only prerequisite for grace is empty hands. We have done nothing to make God notice us, and He is not impressed by us.” 

T.M. Moore On Considering Jesus

T.M. Moore“We cannot follow what we do not know. And if we do not know Jesus, if our vision and understanding of Him are vague or merely general, following Him, in any sense, will be an act of self-deception. …

“The writer of Hebrews understood this. Twice in his epistle he instructs us to ‘consider Jesus.’ We must consider Jesus if we have any hope of persisting in the faith, no matter the struggle or threat that comes our way (Hebrews 3:1). And we must consider Jesus if we are to run our own particular race as fully and swiftly as possible (Hebrews 12:3). Following Jesus, it seems, means considering Him carefully. The writer uses two different words which we translate by the term consider.

“The first, in Hebrews 3:1, is the same word Jesus used to instruct us to consider the lilies of the field. It seems to have an aesthetic sense to it, implying wonder, admiration, mystery, and awe. To consider Jesus in this way is to wonder at His beauty, majesty, mystery, and power, and to delight in meditating on Him and lingering in His presence.

“The second use of consider, in Hebrews 12:3, encourages a more analytical, logical, and even theological consideration of Jesus Christ. We must study Jesus, think about all the implications of His life, death, and resurrection, and apply our minds to taking every thought captive for obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).” —T.M. Moore

Christlike Wives And Husbands

like-jesusTime after time Peter calls Christians to live a counter-cultural lifestyle. The most countercultural example we have ever seen is Jesus Christ.

Peter shows us how Jesus—in the most excruciating situation possible—lived. Heading into the torture of crucifixion

  • He was submissive to His Father’s will
  • He remained focused on the future glory, not just the immediate pain
  • He continued to be a servant-hearted leader
  • He spoke to those around Him respectfully
  • He extended mercy to His tormentors
  • He prayed for (and purchased with His blood) His tormentors’ forgiveness

Peter then tells Christian wives and husbands they are to behave in the same way as Jesus. Wow!

More specifically Peter challenges Christlike wives to be:

  1. Submissive to their husbands—I like how the Amplified Bible says this in verse 1: “subordinate, not as inferior, but out of respect for the responsibilities entrusted to husbands and their accountability to God, and so partnering with them.
  2. Christlike in their behavior.
  3. Distinctive by their purity.
  4. Reverent to God, by honoring the image of God in their husbands.
  5. Beautiful from the inside out.
  6. Consistently doing what is right
  7. Not swayed by fear—“do what is right without being frightened by any fear [that is, being respectful toward your husband but not giving in to intimidation, nor allowing yourself to be led into sin, nor to be harmed]” (v. 6 AMP).

Likewise Peter challenges Christlike husbands to be:

  1. Submissive to their wives—remember the in the same way phrase? That applies to the men too. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:21, 24).
  2. Considerate of her—the King James Version says, “dwell with them according to knowledge.” That word for knowledge means to study your wife and know what she likes and doesn’t like.
  3. Respectful in the way he treats his wife.
  4. Treating her as a partner and heir in your spiritual heritage.
  5. Understanding the part she plays in your spiritual development—“The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run a ground” (v. 7 MSG).

Here are two questions I think Christian wives and husbands need to seriously consider: Are you thinking about your role as a husband or wife in biblical terms or cultural terms? If you are thinking in cultural terms, are you willing to try it God’s way?

Our Christian marriages should be “alien” to the way the world operates; they should be counter-cultural. That kind of marriage is what points people to a relationship with Jesus!

Delightful Fear

Delightful FearThe 112th Psalm begins with an interesting idea that almost sounds like an oxymoron: delightful fear—

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. (v. 1)

  • Fear and delight
  • Worship and obedience
  • Reverence and action
  • Awe and love

These are not contrasting ideas, but two sides of the same coin. They are completions of each other, and they are essential to a healthy relationship with Jehovah. And then, oh!, the blessings that flow from God to me!

  • Mighty children (v. 2)
  • Abundant household (v. 3a)
  • Enduring righteousness (v. 3b)
  • Brightly shining life (v. 4)
  • Reciprocated generosity (v. 5)
  • Security in troubled times (v. 6a)
  • A lasting legacy (v. 6b)
  • No fear of calamity (v. 7)
  • Eternal life (v. 8)
  • Highly honored (v. 9)

After nine verses of these amazing blessings to the one who delightfully fears God, only one verse is left for the one who doesn’t—he is vexed, wasting away, and frustrated.

I don’t know about you, but I want to delightfully fear—worship, obey, revere and love—Jehovah my God!

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