I have been involved in a number of conversations lately and I have realised how differently each of us sees the world. Depending on our beliefs, teachings and experiences we all interpret our world and what is going on around us slightly differently. I can often believe something very passionately and then I will have an experience that alters, deepens or erases that belief. I can say one thing and then do the complete opposite, it is very confusing.
Last night I saw the end of a documentary about Paul the Apostle and it discussed how his writings in the New Testament have influenced society more than most of us would recognise. He said some beautiful, empowering and inspiring things that revolutionized how people thought about and treated each other. We have one of his quotes hanging in our kitchen “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). He also said “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
However, Paul is also quoted as saying some much less loving and inclusive things, like “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).The documentary highlighted the contradictions in Paul’s writings and it made me think of all the contradictions in my own life. For example I find thinking and talking about money offensive and dull however I love spending money; I hate paying taxes but I love that we have high quality public hospitals and public schools; I feel as if love and relationship is the most important thing and earthly possessions are meaningless but I am very attached to our home and where we live; I believe every human being has been perfectly created yet I think and say some very unkind things about these perfectly created human beings, myself included. The list goes on. It is like I have this ideal in my head that I strive for but sometimes the reality for me is quite different, creating a world and life full of contradictions.
William Blake, English poet and painter who died in 1827 said “Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction.” I tend to agree. Look at Saint Paul he made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is credited as the author of 13 of them. Paul was martyred for his faith in Christ by the Romans, about 64 or 65 A.D. Paul towers as one of the all-time giants of Christianity yet still he was surrounded by many contradictions, so what hope do the rest of us have?
Do you think it is possible to live without contradictions? Do your own contradictions bother you or do you just embrace them as part of your unique, curious and magnificent personality?