The bible is full of paradox and it is too late this evening to try and point out more than a few. The Beatitudes, the introduction Jesus’ first sermon, is declaration that His kingdom and its citizens will break every assumption about reality of every earthly kingdom in history. Jesus and his followers finding life through death is paradoxical as well as ironic. Surely the Lion of the Tribe of Judah whom John sees as a Lamb, standing yet slain is a picture upon whose meaning we could meditate and glean truths until Jesus comes. The passage I want to point to from our Seven52 reading today is from 2 Corinthians 6:10 where Paul describes himself and his company as “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” These two emotions seem so contradictory as to be impossible to coexist in the same subject, yet this is Paul’s description of himself and it is a description he intends for us to seek and to emulate.
One of the obvious changes to our society in recent years is the growing infatuation or might we say worship of entertainment. Entertainment sells and entertainment consumes because it offers an escape from reality. But followers of Christ are called to a serious life. The study notes in the Gospel Transformation Bible for Ephesians 5:15 says we are to be, “walking in counter-cultural obedience to him.” In 2 Corinthians 6:10 Paul talks about a rejoicing in the midst of a life of sorrow. Could this be code for the Christian life? Can we be haters of injustice, deception, gossip, sexual perversion of every kind, murder, homelessness, greed, injustice, genocide, famine, disease, addiction and war; burdened by sin (mine and yours), the lostness all around me (those who look at Jesus and reject Him), unreached people groups (those who have never heard of Jesus and never will) and the apathy in the church that assures that much of the problems listed above will only grow worse; yet rejoicing in Christ every moment. All the things listed above should wash over me like frigid waters, painful and relentless yet there is a fire down deep inside whose light, warmth and all satisfying goodness can never be touched by those cold waters. That sustaining fire is Jesus. He can be my joy today! He is the source of all my true rejoicing! And as the noise of this world grows louder and the pain of this life gets intensifies the joy I find in Jesus grows greater still. We are called to live these two realities together.
So the next time you feel a need to escape the problems of life through whatever means you most often turn, allow the problems of life to wash over you and then look to Jesus that you can be sorrowful yet always rejoicing.