Coco Calling No.157 - The Paradox that’s All of Us
I’ve sat on this perch on many occasions and bowed my head in shame. And it’s all because I don’t always practice what I preach. I contradict myself. I say one thing but do the other. A kind of conflict exists within me between my outward image and my inner reality. I claim that I’m not vain, but I am. I promise that I won’t gnaw through my perches again, but I do, and what makes it worse is that I enjoy doing it!
I know that I’m not alone in this. Because the majority of humans contradict themselves as well. Just think of that human politician Matt Hancock. Having preached the message of social distancing over the last 15 months, he’s been photographed kissing his aide and forced to resign. In Biblical times, he would probably have been stoned by the angry crowds, but in this day and age, humans tend to hurl verbal abuse instead. Especially if they happen to be members of opposing political parties or tabloid journalists. These humans claim the moral high ground because their own transgressions remain hidden from view.
The uncomfortable truth is that we all contradict ourselves as we go through life. Sometimes in big ways; sometimes in small ways. And it’s a flaw that we will always have. Even Saint Paul had his uncomfortable moments:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15).
And then what about Simon Peter? He vehemently says to Jesus:
“Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.
To which Jesus replies:
“I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:33b-34).
Ultimately we are all hypocrites and we are all sinners. This is something that most of us discover as we go through Life. We are fallible and often weak. And a big part of coming to know God is recognising our own failings and contradictions and asking for God’s forgiveness. We all need to be open and honest about ourselves instead of pretending that we are something that we are not and never will be.
I often like to read the on-line sermons of a Texas-based pastor called Father Michael K. Marsh. He inspires many thousands of humans around the world through his messages. And a few weeks ago, he wrote this:
“There are days when I believe Jesus to be the way, the truth and the life, and other days when I’m not so sure. I’m like the guy who cries out to Jesus: ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24).”
“The truth is sometimes I believe and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I seek the light and other times I want the darkness. Sometimes I do the truth and other times I don’t.” (Michael K. Marsh: “Interrupting The Silence.”)
I’m sure that there will be some humans out there that will condemn Father Michael Marsh for being too open and honest. But this little parrot thinks he should be applauded. It takes a very brave human to publicly admit to the contradictions and weaknesses at the very heart of his soul. And I have no doubt that God applauds his honesty in a world that’s so full of hypocrisy.
I like to think back to the moment when Jesus rescued the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death. He said to the angry crowd:
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her…… At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there.” (John 8:7b-9).
We all sin. We all fall far short of where we’d like to be. Our faith is often a lot more wobbly than we would like others to see. We are all living contradictions and that will never change. But we all have the choice of facing up to our flaws and being open and honest about them. For self-righteous pretence belongs to the age of the Pharisees….
“Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction.” (William Blake: 1757-1827: English poet, artist and printmaker).
“To be great is to be misunderstood.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson: 1803-1882: American essayist, lecturer, philosopher and poet).
Even when I don’t love myself because of the way that I am, I know that God will always love me, warts and all. He just wants me to be honest….