Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
G.K. Chesterton, in his work "Orthodoxy," argues that one unique aspect of Christianity is its embracing of opposites. Christianity refuses to combine opposites into some dilution. True courage, for example, is the absolute desire to preserve one's life while simultaneously counting one's life as lost. Courage is not suicidal in seeking death, but it relinquishes one's life, nor is it cowardly, yet true courage desires to preserve life. Chesterton expounds on this idea of opposites or paradoxes in his chapter entitled "The Paradoxes of Christianity." Chesterton says,
"[Christianity] separated the two ideas and then exaggerated them both. In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners. All humility that had meant pessimism, that had meant man taking a vague or mean view of his whole destiny— all that was to go. We were to hear no more the wail of Ecclesiastes that humanity had no preeminence over the brute, or the awful cry of Homer that man was only the saddest of all the beasts of the field. Man was a statue of God walking about the garden. Man had pre-eminence over all the brutes; man was only sad because he was not a beast, but a broken god. The Greek had spoken of men creeping on the earth, as if clinging to it. Now Man was to tread on the earth as if to subdue it. Christianity thus held a thought of the dignity of man that could only be expressed in crowns rayed like the sun and fans of peacock plumage. Yet at the same time it could hold a thought about the abject smallness of man that could only be expressed in fasting and fantastic submission, in the grey ashes of St. Dominic and the white snows of St. Bernard. When one came to think of one’s self, there was vista and void enough for any amount of bleak abnegation and bitter truth. There the realistic gentleman could let himself go— as long as he let himself go at himself. There was an open playground for the happy pessimist. Let him say anything against himself short of blaspheming the original aim of his being; let him call himself a fool and even a damned fool (though that is Calvinistic); but he must not say that fools are not worth saving. He must not say that a man, quâ man, can be valueless. Here again, in short, Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious." [For more on Chesterton, check out my summaries here]
Christians, then, ought not to be surprised that Christianity so often contains furious opposites and seeming paradoxes. That's really what the truest virtues are - furious opposites held in tandem, not in dilution
Right now our extended team (Team Romania + Team Odessa) is working through one of these Christian paradoxes - waiting or waltzing. Both of these themes can be found throughout the Bible. Abraham waited on God to provide him a son. Joseph waited on his vindication. Elijah waited for God's still, small voice. The world waited for a true messiah. But at the same time, the Bible is jam packed with a theme which depicts God's expectation that we move forward in faith. Abraham moved out from his homeland. David faced Goliath. And Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water. Sometimes faith is depicted as a discipline which refuses to move forward with one's own plan in patient expectance of God's movement in the world. At other times, faith is depicted as stepping out in action and trusting that God will bring about the ends which advance his Kingdom. Faith is patiently waiting back, and faith is expectantly waltzing forward.
We have seen God do wonderful things in his timing since writing our last newsletter. He has miraculously granted all of the Odessa team Romanian visas when it looked like such a thing was going to be an impossibility. God has brought mama M to the last month of her schooling - the end of a very long road. God has provided funding through Romania for the Ukrainian housing which was supposed to run out in May - an expense we had anticipated covering. We know that God is faithful, not only because He tells us He is, but because He's shown us His faithfulness. But it's easy to see faithfulness in the past and rejoice, and another to anticipate faithfulness in the future and determine how to act now. In what areas does faith look like waiting on God to move, and in what areas does faith look like moving forward and trusting God to provide?
Please pray for the teams here in Romania as we navigate a lot of unknowns. Pray that we would have wisdom in discerning where to wait and where to waltz. And ultimately, that whether we stay on the boat or step out onto the water, that God would help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, for he is the author, savior, perfecter, and object of our faith.