I’m a fan of a good paradox. For instance, there are times when slowing down helps you run faster. A destructive volcanic eruption creates the best soil for new life. It is in giving that we receive. Life is full of paradoxes, and Jesus was a master of using them to teach us about the way he desires us to live. Here are a couple of examples.
“The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11, NIV). Isn’t it something that Jesus’ idea of greatness totally differs from that of the world? The idea of greatness to which we are most exposed usually has to do with having the most money, the best wardrobe, the most charisma, and the fanciest this or that. Jesus’ way may even appear foolish to those who see greatness as a goal to be achieved through clawing and scratching for power and prestige. Yet, the paradox is so true! Those who serve actually discover the true meaning of greatness.
But be careful here! Sometimes we try so hard to prove that we are serving that we actually miss the point of Jesus’ teaching. It’s a good idea every now and then to pause and ask, “Why am I serving? Am I in this for me?” Motives are a great indicator of our mindset towards God. If we are pointing to ourselves as great servants, then are we truly serving or truly great?
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24, NIV). This teaching of Jesus still shocks me, even though I’ve read it many, many times. The loss of life actually creates life. But what does Jesus mean by this? Let’s not water it down. He’s calling for us to drop everything and purposefully follow him with all we’ve got—meaning that it’s not enough to have head knowledge of Jesus. One must translate knowing about Jesus into doing something about it. A theologian hero of mine named Henlee Barnette said it like this: “Destiny is determined by response to the teaching of Jesus.”
Let’s respond to Jesus by living out his paradoxical teachings today. Let’s serve and find greatness and die to ourselves in order to live.