The mysteries of the kingdom are hidden in layers of paradox. They are like a labyrinthine maze that cannot be compared with anything we humans can grasp. Perhaps the Universe itself provides the best analogy in nature, but the purpose of an analogy is to minimize big abstract mysteries into some small, tangible object we can comprehend. The Universe simply will not do!
The Kingdom’s Fruit of Paradox
Let's imagine instead a fruit that we'll call the "Fruit of Paradox" layered like an onion, but designed with each layer unique: each with a different taste, texture, and color. Some layers are delightful, others bitter. Some layers bring awe, others terror; some joy, others grief; some bring laughter, others tears; some bring dancing, others mourning. Only after eating from a layer of suffering may we later eat from one of rest. Having eaten a layer of poverty, we may later be surprised with a layer of abundance.
The sweet taste of wonder, awe, and rest reside in the very core of the Kingdom’s Fruit of Paradox. On occasion, the Lord may bless us with the gift of a glimpse, a quick little taste of the core to encourage us onward. Consider the mystery of “abundant life”: we may catch a glimpse of this mystery from the very first layer of the Kingdom’s Fruit of Paradox. That mystery draws us into deeper layers. These layers often call for sacrifice. Eventually, we will arrive at the Layer of Death. If we are willing eat and digest this most bitter layer, then we discover a deeper layer that returns to the mystery of abundant life.
Perhaps even more challenging than the Layer of Death is the Layer of the Sword (Gen 3:24). The Bible abounds with stories of those encountering the Layer of the Sword: Abraham tested with the sacrifice of Isaac; Jacob wrestling with God; the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land; David on the run from Saul; Daniel in the lion’s den; Paul receiving 39 lashes, and finally, the ultimate story of the Layer of the Sword: the Cross.
Each layer of the Fruit of Paradox not only has its own taste, texture, color and feeling, but it also contains its own set of mysteries. Sometimes the mysteries in one layer appear to contradict the mysteries in another. But they all belong to the same Fruit of Paradox, maintaining itself as a harmonious whole.
Paradox abounds: God is full of love, but also judgment. We humans fall short of God’s glory, and yet, we are made in His image. Only God alone is good, yet we are commanded to be “perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” We are given free-will, but we are also chosen before birth. Were we to attempt to compile a list, we would find an endless series of mind-boggling puzzles. The believer claims the scriptures can be comprehended if only one uses the right method of “hermeneutics.” The cynic throws in the towel, calls the scriptures “contradictory,” and walks away. But a genuine and deep-level kingdom seeker not only acknowledges the Lord’s multiplicity of paradox, but is also awed by it.
In its own way, each layer is called into the core. It is like the core sings to each layer, calling the seeker there to draw deeper, to come closer. Will we continue?
Stay tuned . . .