Yesterday one of my random thoughts was “Does following Jesus ever make anyone else feel bi-polar?” Then today, Rich came and spoke in our church about what I was trying to get at with that statement. (To hear Rich’s sermon, go here. Highly recommend it.)

As Christians, we live with constant paradoxes. We believe in a triune God but we are monotheistic. We believe that Jesus is both fully God but also fully human. We believe that we are saved by grace but we work out our salvation in fear and trembling. The Beatitudes are filled with paradoxes. And these only make sense in light of the Kingdom. To the world peeking in, we look crazy and like we are contradicting ourselves all over the place.

Not only are we called to live with these paradoxes, we are also battling our sin nature. (As Luther said, both sinner and saint…) So on the one hand, we know the good we should do, but we don’t do it. And we do the evil that we know we shouldn’t do. (Romans 7) I know that I need to love my enemies. I know that I should pray for them. And sure, the occasional imprecatory prayer may slip out. But praying that they will be blessed in their lives, even giving them a second thought, is so very hard. Which is what I was struggling with last night. Two sets of people had been brought to mind and as I felt myself getting angry all over again, I knew I needed to pray for them instead. (Though through gritted teeth those prayers may have been.)

The funny thing is, you can’t even be certain about your faith. “Do you know for certain that you’re going to Heaven when you die?” Well…no. If I’m completely honest, I don’t know that for certain. And there are days when I don’t know that all of the questions and living in this paradoxical state are worth it. Is loving my enemy going to be worth it when what I really want to do is drive over there, pound on their door, and tell them exactly what I think of them? It’s tough to walk down the middle of the road. It’s hard to keep that tension. It’s hard to balance being both sinner and saint. Which is why, at the end of the day, I keep it simple:

I believe. Help my unbelief.

The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them, in hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love. – Parker Palmer

When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. – Brennan Manning