Message: "The Truth of Paradox" June 27, 2021
2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
There are paradoxes in the Bible that are not immediately understandable, and they are incorporated, as a way, to lead us to the truth. The word paradox comes from the Greek word "paradoxa": para (anti, super) + doxa (opinion, common sense). In Japanese, it is often translated as "disobedience" or "contrary reason." I think the Bible verse we are going to study together today is a typical example.
The other day, I received a newspaper from FEBC (Far East Christian Broadcasting Corporation), and I saw a headline that read, "It's tough to be a Christian.” It was a conversation between a pastor, a gospel singer, and an FEBC personality. "To become a Christian, and to be baptized, you have to be prepared. Do you understand that? And if you want to become a pastor, I don't recommend it. It's hard work.” To be honest, I felt "Oh no! There are more than 300 churches in Japan without pastors, so why bother to discourage people from becoming pastors?” It may be true that there are difficulties, but every life has them. But they talked about a prophet named Jeremiah, and how even the most obedient prophet got martyred in the end.
Well, I'll get back to their final summary later, but I'd like to get back to the Bible.
As an example of the paradox, consider Jesus' words in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” As another example of the paradox, let's consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Generally, we think, "Blessed are the rich in spirit.” Yet, Jesus said the exact opposite. Why is it blessed to be poor?
Poverty in this context does not mean economical difficulty or feebleness, but rather “emptiness” or “humbleness”. Apparently, this is the key point. Jesus said, "Heaven belongs to such people.” Allow me to say it differently, "a heart that is acutely aware of its own weakness" and "a state of self-despair.” Christ continues to tell us that those who are in such a state are the happiest! I think that "If you can be poor, you will receive God's power,” and that is the kind of people who will be in heaven.
If you look at the testimonies on my homepage, you can see the situation clearly. I would like to tell you about it in brief.
I was very scared of how and when I would die. I was supplied with 3 liters of oxygen every long. After that, I was bedridden for two years, but God helped me overcome these trials and here I am today. This August, I would have lived for 10 years since. I can't find the words to express my gratitude. However, I can honestly say that when I was diagnosed, I was so shocked and scared, and most of all, the hardest part was that God seemed so far away.
That's right! I was in despair! When I said this, some people may say, "What's wrong with you? You are Christian, who is also a medical missionary and a pastor! Where has your faith gone?” But it's true. It was precisely because I was in despair that I turned to God alone. Abandoned by modern medicine, I jumped straight into the heart of God. When I was standing on the border between death and life, I had no choice.
Everyone! Tough times bring opportunity. If I had not become "poor in spirit," I might not have asked for God's help, thinking, "I'm still okay. There's always another way or in despair.
Let's go back to the newspaper article. In their conclusion, I feel that this was indeed a paradox. It is true that becoming a Christian or a pastor is a great joy to be saved, but it can also lead to difficult situations. However, this is not the end of the story.
They emphasized that the important thing is to "face God" and "be honest." You can have an intimate conversation with God, and you don't have to embellish yourself.
Some Christians may say, "I'm afraid I'm too embarrassed to say such a thing in prayer and dialogue with God!”
What about you?