10 Quotes: Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel

Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel was a beautiful, challenging, and thought-provoking book. Jen masterfully explores Biblical paradoxes in a way that’s sometimes uncomfortable but always tethered by truth. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes:

Though we might acknowledge God as standing at the thunderous, tempestuous center of faith, we also want the waters still and glassy around him. But it is an old sin seduced by an old lie that we can be like God, perfectly knowing as he knows. (12)

Keep falling into the strong, sure, and merciful hands of Jesus. And as you do, let your life burst into glorious flame. Be the bush that burns, bearing the image of God so brightly in the world that every man and woman must stop to remove their shoes and draw near for a closer look. (60)

The cross speaks a thundering word about the cosmic big deal of sin. (114)

This is the gospel of grace, the good news that despite our inability to ever make things right with God, he stretches out his hands, east to west, and pays for the forgiveness that can cast our sins into his bottomless ocean of love. (115)

Grace can’t mean that we assent to the theoretical idea of God’s liberal love but submit to no real transformation. There can be no clinging to death and decay while simultaneously brandishing resurrection. (120)

Paradoxically, grace is not merited by obedience to God’s commands, but it obliges us to them nonetheless. God has pledged to purify a people for himself. He is the loving, diligent husband devoted to present his bride without spot or wrinkle. (124)

To speak God’s hard words well requires this of us: a deep, visceral compassion for the people for whom hard words are necessary. We can’t revel in hard words, can’t feel smugly satisfied in the task of speaking them. We certainly never see arrogant contempt in the ministry of Jesus, who spoke a lot of hard words. (131)

Grace provides all that we need in terms of the tools for growing a life deep in Christ, but it will not spare us the effort of picking them up. (140)

For all its seemingly impolitic, impious qualities, lament is a confession of faith. Maybe mustard seed faith, maybe angry faith, but faith nonetheless. It is not an abandonment or denial of God, but an affirmation of his reality, even his goodness and power. (154)

Maybe the mystery of suffering isn’t only that this world could be so fragile; maybe it’s also that God could be so close, bending his ear to the earth to let every grieving heart crawl inside and find rest. Not answers, but comfort. Not certainty, but trust. And perhaps that is enough to tide us over till the dawning of a new world when the heavy boots of death are sent straight to hell and everything fragile is made unbreakable again, where falling becomings rising and faith becomes sight. (190)

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