The nature of God is a fascinating and complex subject. Though we are created in His image, He is wholly other than we are. His thoughts and ways are completely, radically different than ours. His perspective on everything is beyond our comprehension. His limitless wisdom and understanding far exceed our finite intellectual capacity. One of the great mysteries of His being is described as paradoxical. A paradox is defined as, “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.” I will mention a few examples from Scripture.
Jesus stated in Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Again, in Matthew 10:39 He says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” In Mark 10:43-44 He says, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” These Kingdom principles represent the paradoxical nature of our God.
God is both a God of love and of justice, for He is both a Lover and a Judge. Psalm 33:5 says, “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” Many struggle with this seeming paradox. How can God love people unconditionally, yet judge them for their wickedness? Would a God of love really send people into a lake of fire for eternity? Yet, on the other hand, how can God be just and not punish the wicked? For those who have suffered great loss at the hands of evil, unremorseful, and unrepentant people, God’s justice is one proof of His love.
Though He loves even the wicked, His justice will not let them go unpunished if they refuse to repent of their sin. This seeming paradox is not at all contradictory. You cannot have love without justice, nor justice without love; they are two sides of the same coin. To emphasize one aspect of His nature over the other is to seriously misrepresent Him. He is not just one or the other, He is equally both.
God’s love and justice were both displayed on the cross, where His love motivated Him to pay the price that His justice required for our salvation. To all who believe on Him, this gift is freely and readily available. To those who refuse Him, their inability to live up to His standard of holiness will determine their eternal fate. This is not unloving on the part of Him who IS Love. Rather, He honors the choices each of us makes with the free will He has given us.
At the end of this age when Jesus returns, He will come as Bridegroom, King, and Judge with justice in His heart to fully avenge His persecuted bride. (Rev. 5:9-10, 7:14-17, 19:11-21) He will make all wrong things right. We will judge beside Him during His millennial reign. (Rev. 20:4) Until that time, we must guard our hearts against offense towards Him so that we are not among those who will fall away from the faith. (Matt. 24:10, 2 Thess. 2:3) When His ways seem to be contradictory, we have His Holy Spirit to give us understanding and lead us into all truth.
In what ways has God’s nature seemed paradoxical to you? Please comment below.