Sunday, January 29, 2023
The Paradoxes of Life
A paradox is a statement with two totally opposite meanings that may seem contradictory to each other and yet together they not only are true but also make sense.
Believing in God in itself has many paradoxes: the Creator becomes a creature; the Infinite becomes finite; the Eternal One enters into time; and death is the way to life. These are some of the paradoxes expressed in the Bible.
The presence of God is one of the many paradoxes of life. Indeed, sometimes we see God’s love, mercy, and justice, but there are also times we see only His indifference, condemnation, and even injustice. In fact, there are many times we are prone to asking the pivotal question: “Where is God?”
So, how do we explain this enigma and the paradox of God’s presence in human lives?
The reality is that God does not change. God is always and will forever be who He is: God is constant and present. It is only humans’ perceptions of God that constantly change under many different circumstances.
Believing in God is a tall order because we are living in a world not only of paradoxes but also of changes.
The paradox of two-in-one person
You are a two-in-one person. As a matter of fact, we all are, to a certain extent.
There are two persons living inside you: one is your ego-self; the other is your spirit. They co-exist: your ego-self is living in the physical or material world, while your spirit is living in a totally different environment with a different dimension. There is constant and continual contact and interaction between these two personalities.
Your ego-self is assertive, and even aggressive, always telling you that you are separate from everyone else. Your ego-self wants more of everything, not only to define who you are but also to separate you from others. Your ego-self is judgmental, not only self-evaluating but also assessing others through comparison and contrast with yourself. Your ego-self is constantly shifting and shuffling back and forth between the past and the future, instrumental in improving the ego-self in the past, as well as in enhancing the ego-self expected in the future.
Your spirit is the other person living inside you. Your spirit, on the other hand, is gentle and submissive in nature, always nudging you to do what is right and to avoid doing what is wrong.
The paradox is that both your ego-self and your spirit co-exist, and that each strives to dominate and influence the other.
The classic illustration of the two-in-one person is Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the story, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have a dark side within them, where evil is always lurking underneath to surface anytime. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually one and the same person.
Given that the ego-self and the spirit co-exist and that one can never totally get rid of the other, the reality is that the more control the ego-self has over the spirit, the more difficult it is to understand God’s presence, not to mention to attain His wisdom. To unravel the paradox of two-in-one person, let go of the ego-self, or at least diminish its control over the spirit, so as to feel more the presence of God in order to seek His wisdom.
The paradox of understanding
One of the reasons for the paradox of God’s presence is rationalization. Man is a rational being, and understanding is vital to believing.
, the Bishop of Hippo
(354-430 A.D.), in life there are certain things we do not believe unless we
understand them, and there are also other things that we do not understand
unless we believe them first. According to St. Augustine , faith is not opposed to
understanding, nor is it independent of understanding. His famous statement
“faith seeking understanding” is an act of believing first, without
which unbelief closes the door to further understanding. In other words,
believe first, and understanding will follow. St. Anselm of St. Augustine Canterbury, a
well-known Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century, also
statement in his famous motto “I do not seek to understand in order that
I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.” St. Augustine
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
The reality is that man has only limited power of understanding. Therefore, let go of any pre-conceived concept or rationalization in order to appreciate the presence of God, thereby opening the door to further understanding the mystery of His presence.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
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