A paradox - or not?
Jn 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Phil 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
These aren't paradoxes - they say the same thing in different styles. Yet we often live a paradox. We often live as though we can do anything - but when God asks us to do something, we often don't hear clearly or we come up with excuses. I suspect the reality is that mostly we don't know what God wants us to do. I've been talking things over with God for a few years now - and yet it seems there's so little progress on hearing him consistently - and acting on it.
Think about Jesus - our example. One incident that comes to mind is known as the woman at the well. Not just a woman - a Samaritan (that might not mean much to modern Westerners, but it did then) - and definitely not an example of moral living. So why did Jesus talk with her? I don't know - but he did tell her how many times she'd been married and that she wasn't married to her current man. And before any who don't know the story assume He was judgemental, reads it yourself before you decide if He was. The question we have to ask is how did He know these things? A cynic might suggest He had some spies or such - but God told Him.
I came across some videos of a guy called Torben Søndergaard. I thought about what this person said, and had a look at what others were saying. The views ranged from heretic to spot on. I'm no scholar or theologian - but he makes some valid points. Is that a cop-out? I think not (and I'm aware that comment is ripe for smart comments).
What Torben says, and his personal style, differs from what I would expect from an English-speaking theologian. But it strikes me as having a bigger positive effect on more people than 1000 theologians discoursing on things would ever do. The one group Jesus was always on high alert for - and regularly attacked were the scribes and Pharisees - the religious leaders of the day. "Sinners" (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc) he never condemned. I'm not saying all critics of people like Torben are modern equivalents of scribes and Pharisees, but it seems they make a lot of effort to pull the specks out of others eyes. I hope they are aware of any planks in their own eyes.
It is important to get the truth as right as we can - but God uses people however imperfect they are. In this case, I think of Apollos (Acts 18:24 - 28). He was heard to be less than perfect in what he said - but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they didn't put him down. They explained to him the truth more adequately. Of course, sometimes people don't listen - and that's sad. But after Apollos heard, he was powerful in defending the truth.
It's a bit like Paul and James on faith. It takes some pondering over - but there is no conflict. Paul talked much about faith. James saw evidence of faith in what people did. I've mentioned elsewhere the book "Your God is too small". Whenever someone says they have God categorised in little boxes, I know this is another case of God being too small.
God is truth - and when any of us thinks we have an understanding of the truth, a new insight is likely to come which may reverse our previous views - but I find it is more likely to add layers and depth to our previous understanding.