He is both the rest and the storm, both the victim and the wielder of the flaming sword, and you must accept him or reject him on the basis of both. Either you’ll have to kill him or you’ll have to crown him. The one thing you can’t do is just say, “What an interesting guy.” Those teachers of the law who began plotting to kill Jesus at the end of this episode in the temple – they may have been dead wrong about him, but their reaction makes perfect sense.
King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus
God is not politically correct. God is not tame. God is not going to change Himself to fit my pre-conceived notions of who He should be, how He should act, what He should stand for. Do I call Him unjust? Am I indignant on another’s behalf, crying out for justice and shaking my fist at Him for not providing it? God is Justice itself. I do not feel a thing for another person, outrage or otherwise, that He has not felt already: a thousand times more deeply and more truly. He gave me the capacity to feel a small fraction of what He feels. Anything more would destroy me.
His love is not an affectionate feeling; it is a force that made the worlds. His justice cuts cleanly, his grace forgives completely – he is the lion and the lamb, all at once.
I’ve noticed that every true thing has at its core a contradiction. Paradox and truth tend to go hand-in-hand. Why is this? I think it’s because all truth brings us to the end of ourselves, to the very limits of our understanding; we strain after truth and in our strain see it double, see its shadow, not knowing how to reconcile it, trying to fit it inside our minds when it was not made for our minds. It was made to be understood through story, through life, through relationships.
And how many times has a story or relationship brought me to the end of myself, shown me the world more clearly than anything before: and yet when I am asked to explain precisely what I see, I am at a loss for words?
Every idea of Him we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer would be to rise thinking, “But I never knew before. I never dreamed…” I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of all his own theology: “It reminds me of straw.”
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer