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Seeds of the Kingdom

Binary Truths

by Jilly Lyon-Taylor

15 October 2016

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To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:29, NIV

I have a beautiful old dish, which is part of a set that came from my parents. The problem is that, while it was being stored, it broke into two pieces. As I looked around for something to repair it, I found a packet of epoxy glue in the cupboard. This pack contains two tubes, an adhesive and a hardener, and, in order for the glue to work, it’s necessary to squeeze out an equal amount from both tubes and mix them together. This then creates a very effective and long-lasting adhesive.

This made me think of the many binary truths in Scripture – aspects of God and the Christian life, which contain seeming contradictions, but which both need to be embraced, in order to form the whole picture. For instance, we’re told that Jesus is the ‘Lion of Judah’ (Revelation 5:5), who roars against injustice, sin and oppression (Amos 1:2), but He’s also the ‘Lamb of God’ who ‘was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth’ (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus is ‘King of kings’, but He’s also the ‘suffering servant’ (Isaiah 53:11). The Lord is ‘Almighty God’, so holy that if the people of Israel even touched the mountain where God was meeting with Moses, they would die; but He’s also our loving, heavenly ‘Father’, whose throne we can approach with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). We need to hold in balance a right fear of the Lord, with the fact that we can be intimate with a Father who loves us. We need both, not either, or!

Today’s verse from Colossians contains another binary truth, and it’s one that most of us have probably had out of balance at some point in our Christian lives. Paul says: ‘I labour, struggling with all his energy’. This highlights the need to balance what God wants us to do, and what we should rely on God to do. Some people wait for God to do everything, without making any effort on their own part. But God has given us a will to decide and to act, and He sometimes requires us to make a choice before He comes with His grace and power to enable us.

An example of this would be when we need to forgive someone. We can’t just sit and wait for God to do it for us - we have to step out in faith, deciding to forgive the person and trusting God to enable us. The other side of this, however, is that some people do everything in their own strength, working things out for themselves, striving to gain approval and to win God’s acceptance by what they do, forgetting to rely totally on God’s power for every aspect of their lives. We need to work hard, but only with His strength within us.

Are there any binary truths which are out of balance in your Christian life or in your beliefs about God? If so, let’s try to redress the balance as we labour with all His power and energy.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the wonderful truths contained in Your word. Help me to receive the full counsel of Scripture, knowing You both as Almighty God and as my loving Father, labouring with all Your power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jilly Lyon-Taylor is part of the Leadership Team at Ellel Pierrepont. She worked in publishing and then with children in Hong Kong before concentrating on being a full-time mother and serving in the local church. Her desire to see people healed led her to the Luke Nine Eleven Training Scheme(NETS) at Pierrepont, and now she teaches and ministers there.


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