Chapter Seven: The Opposites Within God’s Word
“For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3
Having examined the law of opposites that reside within God’s creation, from the world that reveals Him to the laws that reflect Him to the creatures that either revere or revile Him, we will now move on to the presence of opposites within the written word of God: the Holy Bible. As we spiral in from the outer spoken word (“And God said let there be…”) to the inner written word (“It has been written…”), we see the continuation of the law of opposites. It shouldn’t surprise us since, just as our words give a testimony of who we are and of what we think, so too do God’s words serve as a representation of who He is. And, knowing that God, as Alpha and Omega, is always working from the beginning and the end at the same time, we should not find it odd to read verses that represent two sides of a continuum. In fact, it would be inaccurate and incomplete if the word of God only portrayed one side of His character for, as is true in what God designed, so too is it true in what God dictated: the world, and the Word, rests upon the pinnacle of paradox.
When we looked at God’s creation, we went to the book of Genesis. Now, as we look at God’s word, we go to the book of John. It’s interesting how these two books, Genesis and John, intersect one another. In Genesis 1:3, we read about God speaking light into existence. “And God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’” In John 1:3, we read that Jesus was present when God spoke the light into being. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Then, by verse four in both books, we learn that God created the light, inhabited the Light, and separated the light/Light from darkness. And so, while it may seem like a giant leap to move from the galaxies to the gospels, it is but one small step for the God who ordained and orbits them both.
I love the way John introduces Jesus in the first chapter of his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” There is no mistaking the connection; Jesus is the breath of God, the utterance of God, the manifestation of God. Want to know what God thinks? Jesus tells us. Want to know what God values? Jesus voices it. Want to know what God demands? Jesus declares it. For every question, Jesus not only has the answer, He is the answer; He is the declarative, definitive, demonstrative Word of the Living God. And when He speaks…we need to listen to both sides of what He is saying. We need to listen with our ears and with our hearts, for Jesus’ words are sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joint and marrow…discerning the thoughts and intents of our heart (Heb. 4:12).
So, just what does the Word have to say about the word? What does the Incarnate voice have to say about the inscribed vernacular? When John introduces us to Jesus in the first verse of the first chapter of his first book, he uses logos rather than rhema in describing Jesus. This is incredibly insightful in that, in Greek, logos means written word and rhema means spoken word. God didn’t speak Jesus into existence, Jesus has always been an equal part of the Trinity, but God did allow Jesus to portray His words, to personify His truth. God did embody Truth with flesh so that He could be heard, and seen, and touched, and received. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as from the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). So, when Truth speaks, just what does He say? Sometimes, it may sound contradictory, but we need to remember that when Jesus addresses an issue, He not only speaks about it…He speaks around it!
Let’s begin by looking at Jesus’ comments about life. In the latter part of John 10:10, Jesus says,
“I have come so that [you] may have life and have it in abundance,” but in Matthew 16:24, Jesus comes at us from another direction and says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross if we are going to follow Him. An abundant life on the one hand…a burdensome cross on the other. Then, in Mark 8:35, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.” Again, there are the opposing sides: save by losing…lose by saving.
Then, there’s the seemingly contradictory views on how we are to treat others. In John 13:35, Jesus said others will know that we belong to Him by the way we love one another. But, in Luke 14:26, Jesus said that, in order to follow Him, we must hate our father and mother, sister and brother. And then, in Matthew 5, we gain insight about God’s treatment of people. What has come to be known as the Beatitudes could also be referred to as the Be-Opposites, for in His discourse Jesus challenges us to look at things through an opposing lens…from His perspective rather than from the world’s. But in doing so, we find ourselves swimming upstream, against the flow, in opposition to the world and to all that floats past us. According to Jesus, the Logos, we learn it’s…
- Better to go last…in order to be first
- Better to weep…in order to know joy
- Better to hunger for righteousness…in order to be satisfied by its taste
- Better to be reviled…in order to rejoice
Are you confused yet? Does the Word of God (Logos) seem to oppose the word of God (rhema)…or vice versa? We know that cannot be. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 16:24) and He said that God’s word is truth (John 17:17), so there are no contradictions…and yet the confusion continues and even crescendos with this comment: “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). What do we do with that? Which way do we turn? To the right…to the left; forward…backward? My dead body is alive in Christ? Does that also mean, by way of the law of opposites, that my undead body (if I have yet to surrender it) is not hidden in Christ…but in self? Important questions, two-sided questions…with two-directional answers. Could it be that God wants us to examine things from more than one angle? Might it be that God wants to exchange our myopic vision for a panoramic view? Could it be that our Maker knows our thoughts, our perceptions, better than we do (Is. 55:8-9)…and therefore He has established the law of opposite thinking? Perhaps…just perhaps.
I offer up these excepts from the Word of God not to imply by any stretch of the imagination (for that is exactly what it would be) that God’s word is contradictory, but rather as evidence that the law of opposites resides within the Word of God. And it should. If it is evident within the world He developed, the creatures He designed, and the laws He defined, then shouldn’t it be found within the word He declared? The truth is, we serve a God who has no boundaries. For our understanding, God set up lefts and rights, tops and bottoms, insides and outsides. It is for the purpose of our seeing clearly that God tinted the looking glass. We see more vividly, more accurately, when our frame of reference contains some contrast. It’s how we learn because it’s how we’re wired; it’s how we’re wired because it’s how we’re designed; it’s how we’re designed because it’s Who we reflect…and the One we reflect is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and First and the Last, the Law and the Grace, the Prosecutor and the Propitiation, the Lion and the Lamb…and in Him there is no contradiction but merely a convergence as all things come from, and together in, Him (Romans 11:36). Soli Deo Gloria!