Paradigms and/or Paradoxes

This can't be true

A paradigm is a set of established beliefs and opinions and rules that combine to form an overarching truth. And it can be about anything. Many times, you'll see the word "established" before reading "paradigm". What it means is that this "central theme" has continued that way, unchallenged for quite some time. For instance, in our churches, we hold a Sunday school class or a freethinking, free-speaking (Christian, obviously) forum, and we open the floor for comment and discussion, and then someone brings up a point that challenges the established paradigm—the overarching, dogmatic and denominationally-specific bent on Christianity. And upon hearing it, someone either thinks, or has the audacity to say, something to the effect: "but that's not how we've ever done it". You're running counter to a paradigm. For however many years and generations, the same denominational mentality has persisted, unabated and unchecked in a church and then someone comes in and says "What about this?" I say all that to say this: there are many paradigms in our church that need countering. They need to be challenged. I'm not talking about leniency for sin based on circumstances. What I'm referring to is a lack of humility, teachability, compassion and spiritual understanding. It's tangible. In a word love.

This statement is false

Consider this statement of the apostle James: "For if there come unto your assembly (into your church) a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?" (James 2:2-4, emphasis mine)

A paradox is not so easy to define and pin down. Much like light when it's observed, seems to take two forms (wave and particle). It's best to begin with a universal truth. With reference to the passage in James, we'll start by saying that Jesus accepted everyone who came to Him: "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) This is unassailable, universal truth. And entering a church with a repentant heart is synonymous with someone coming to Jesus today. The next verse in the passage in James reads: "Hearken (listen), my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?" The church that was cited in the first passage was practicing a paradox. Jesus says this is the way things are: love the poor—whether in spirit or in pocketbook or both—receive them and accept them and love them. And when we make them feel less than welcome, to put it mildly, that's the worst kind of paradox.

This statement (of faith) is false

The point is, many of our (established) paradigms are actually paradoxes. If anyone you encounter in your church is acting less than how Jesus acted and conducted Himself, then meet them in the middle with prayer, forgiveness and understanding—yourself. It will reflect positively on them, and you. Because when they come around to seeing Jesus in a fuller way, they'll look back on the way you treated them and their heart will overflow with gratitude. "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7, emphasis mine)

James cites another paradox in chapter 3 (verse 10): "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."

If you're a Christian, act like it. Make time for people. Be emotionally available. Don't listen to the thought that says to treat someone as anything less than you'd treat Jesus. There will come a time when the paradox itself (as a concept) will vanish away. And if it's hard to wrap your mind around that, do your best. This statement is true.

The Renunciation (The Way of Lying part 4)

Maybe they need it more than we do? (Ten Commandments Redux part 8)