The Jesus Paradox — Center for Action and Contemplation

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The Jesus Paradox

Jesus: Human and Divine

The Jesus Paradox
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

If we are humble and honest, Christians must acknowledge that most of our churches and leaders have not consistently read the Gospels in a contemplative way or with “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Without contemplative consciousness, we severely limit the Holy Spirit’s capacity for inspiration and guidance. We had arguments to win, logic to uphold, and denominational distinctions to maintain, after all. Without the contemplative mind, humans—even Christians—revel in dualisms and do not understand the dynamic unity between seeming opposites. The Jesus Paradox (i.e., Jesus being at once God and human) was meant to teach and exemplify this union. [1] The separate self fears and denies paradoxes—which is to deny our own self, which is always filled with seeming contradictions.

“Unless the single grain of wheat dies” we see everything as a mirror of our separate and small selves, rather than whole. As Jesus put it, we “will not yield a rich harvest” (John 12:24). We are unable to comprehend that Christ is our wholeness (see 1 Corinthians 1:30)—set forth for all to imagine, trust, imitate, and comprehend. He is the Exemplar of Reconciled Humanity, the Stand-In for all of us. At this wondrous level, Christianity is hardly a separate religion but simply an organic and hopeful message about the nature of Reality.

I believe the world—and the West in particular—is experiencing a rapid evolution of consciousness in recent centuries. Only in the past few decades have Western Christians even had the capacity to think nondually! While mystics throughout history have recognized the power of Christ to overcome dualisms, dichotomies, and divisions, many Christians are just now realizing what this means. As Augustine said, we are being offered something “forever ancient and forever new.” It is revolutionary because it is so traditional and yet so hidden. This traditional teaching can still create a revolution of mind and heart—and history itself.

As Amos Smith writes: “My core truth about Jesus isn’t rooted in mainstream Christian tradition. It’s rooted in Jesus’ essence. It’s about the deep stillness of silent prayer and a theology big enough to give that blessed stillness words.” [1]

Jesus has always been so much bigger than our ideas about him, our readiness to surrender to him, and our ability to love and allow what he clearly loves and allows in creation. He is the microcosm of the macrocosm. He is the Great Coincidence of Opposites as St. Bonaventure taught. Only the Jesus Paradox gives us the permission and freedom to finally and fully love the paradox that everything already and always will be.

[1] Amos Smith, Healing the Divide: Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots (Resource Publications: 2013), 223.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Afterword” in Amos Smith, Healing the Divide: Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots (Resource Publications: 2013), 238-239.

Image credit: Salvator Mundi (detail), Titian, circa 1570, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Jesus is the archetype of Everything. . . . In Byzantine art and many later icons, Jesus is shown holding up two fingers, indicating, “I am fully human, and I am fully divine at the same time.” —Richard Rohr
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