A Christian paradox: service is freedom

Spiritual truths have a way of turning conventional wisdom upside down!

In The Pirates of Penzance, one of the popular operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, a delightful bit of frivolity turns on the point that the hero was born on the twenty-ninth of February, which made him five years old when in fact he was twenty-one! This "most ingenious paradox" is sung about to tuneful good effect.

The paradoxes that appear in Christianity are not so easily resolved. For instance, it would seem that to live for oneself without having to be concerned about the needs of others would be the height of freedom. Yet a close look at the Gospels reveals a Christian paradox: that selfish living enslaves, while service to God and our fellowman liberates.

The popular thought that sees life as a finite phenomenon based on a material structure of limitation and random occurrences naturally wants to maximize its chances of getting what good it can for itself. It feels justified in manipulating others to its own advantage. The odd thing is that a life lived solely out of self-concern becomes increasingly unsatisfying and dependent on people or things for fulfillment.

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February 25, 1991

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