And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
- Genesis 39:20
The paradox that is Joseph's life is fascinating.
Joseph is wrongly imprisoned yet still confides in God.
Joseph is enslaved yet still free in many ways.
Joseph’s life is unfortunate, yet he is still a child of fortune.
Joseph is abandoned by everyone he knows, yet stands firm in the severest temptations.
Joseph is alone yet still in the presence of God.
Joseph is the object of impending wrath yet still perseveres.
Joseph is a prisoner of the state, yet himself a prison-keeper.
The paradoxical theme of Joseph's life underlies all of Christianity. Think about it, everywhere we turn, there is paradox:
We become rich thru Christ's poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9)
We live by losing our life (Mark 8:34-35)
We see the unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 11:27)
We conquer by yielding (Romans 6:16-18)
We find rest by taking His yoke (Matthew 11:28-30)
We reign by serving (Mark 10:42-44)
We are first by becoming last (Mark (9:35)
We are made great by becoming little (Luke 9:48)
We become wise by being fools for Christ's sake (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)
We find victory by glorying in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:5)
Christianity isn't a theology built on tidy eithers and ors.
When compared to other religious systems, Christianity is uniquely hospitable to paradox, a promoter of the both and and.
This is what led theologian GK Chesterton to see paradox as the sharp edge on which much of God's truth could be found: "Whenever we feel there is something odd in Christian theology, we shall generally find that there is something odd in the truth."
There is a good lesson here; don't be too quick to resolve tension between two seemingly contradictory ideas.
Sometimes the answer is more "both/and."
After all, God has a kind of preference for paradox—God often chooses and.
God is immanent and transcendent; merciful and just; mysterious and knowable.
In the person of Jesus Christ, the great I AM became the great I And, never being less man than God or less God than man, he was both while clothing himself with humility, of which is a divine contradiction.
But, God would have it no other way; even salvation is a paradox, weakness as power, foolishness as wisdom.
Joseph knew something we should not forget: to live on the paradox is to love with God.
Fight on, Pastor Chris
Paper Sunday is blessed to collaborate with Chris Harper on today's devotional!
Chris Harper is a speaker, writer, and disciple-maker. Chris is President of 252Edu, a consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas. Chris serves schools, churches, and non-profits by helping them "grow in wisdom, favor and stature with God and man.”
When not taking ground for King Jesus, you can find Chris on the basketball court playing a pick-up game. Chris is a sneakerhead, an avid reader, and loves a good cheeseburger. You can follow him @252consulting on Instagram.
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