“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Paradox of the Cross

…The way of life described by these paradoxes is demonstrated supremely by Christ, and it is from the ultimate Gospel paradox of his death and resurrection that these beautiful paradoxes are derived (see “The Victory of God”). It in the cross of Christ that we see most fully what it means to be last, to be foolish in the world’s eyes, to lose one’s life, to know sorrow, to bear a burden, to be empty, to be nothing, to die. And it is in the victorious resurrection of Christ that we see most clearly and brightly the last becoming first, foolishness becoming wisdom, sorrow giving birth to joy, emptiness overflowing, and death turned to life. Evil is used as a means for the greatest good, the greatest pain purchases the highest joy, and the death of God himself makes possible the defeat of death, the most complete revelation of God, and the eternal life of his children. This is the ultimate paradox, the center of Christianity, and the most beautiful thing I know – I describe it much more fully in “The Victory of God.”

It must also be remembered that these paradoxes describe life in a fallen world, and in them we see what it means for the world to be fallen and broken (see “The Paradox of ‘Beauty Marred’: A Fallen World”). I believe that God intended a fallen world to exist so that there would be a place for the cross, which was God’s perfect design from the beginning (see “The Cross Predestined”). To make it possible, he set the stage for the fall of man and then for his own incarnation. We still live in that fallen world, and we must follow Jesus to the cross. It is for this reason that life in a fallen world, and especially life for followers of Christ, is marked by paradox.* It all revolves around the cross of Christ, for which the world was made and in light of which we live.

*One last thought: finite temporal life itself seems paradoxical. The more one lives, the closer death approaches. The more life one has experienced, the closer one is to losing life. Thanks to my friend Josh Sales for this thought.

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