Paradox not a pair of ducks, yeesh.
This Sunday’s sermons were about paradox.
Well not exactly the notion, theory or existence of paradox but rather a particular statement that might be a paradox. First, here’s a few definitions of paradox.
n. A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.
n. One exhibiting inexplicable or contradictory aspects: “The silence of midnight, to speak truly, though apparently a paradox, rung in my ears” ( Mary Shelley).
n. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.
n. A statement contrary to received opinion.
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
So which paradox might we be looking at this Sunday? It comes from the last sentence of the Epistle lesson from the Lectionary for this Sunday, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV) Well that serves as a paradox for most of us. Isn’t that a lot like saying “when I am asleep, then I am awake”? On the plain sense of the sentence it is nonsense, so what is Paul getting at?
The fundamental issue revolves around what we mean by “strong.” If we are looking at an objective measure of strength, whatever that might be, then this is a paradoxical statement. However, if we measure “strong” by a sufficient collection of resources to accomplish a particular thing then it begins to make sense. It is only when I admit that I need help, i.e. I am “weak,” that I can seek the additional resources to accomplish what needs to be done. So, it is when I admit that I am week, that I need help that I can receive the help and then do what needs to be done. As long as I tell people, including myself, that I am “strong” and don’t need help then I will always be limited to what I can do on my own, and that my friends is weakness indeed.
Knox Presbyterian Is this a paradox?
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Is this a paradox?
This was a very interesting text, lots more to be said about all those verses but I hope you find some value in these words and even more, some encouragement.