“The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here. Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.
“The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of
heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of
mankind, but rather the contrary. That he may be safe he puts himself in
jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if
he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go
down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.
“He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong.
Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes
rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has
given most away and has least when he possesses most.
“He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless
when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he
knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of
knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest
when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his
heart glad even in sorrow.
“The paradoxical character of the Christian is revealed constantly.
For instance, he believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects
to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation. He
fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God’s presence he feels
overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in
that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he
is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.
“He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself
poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and
Lord of all lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing. He feels
that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he
believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for
him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame.
“The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship
he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country
with that intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray: ‘O God, give me Scotland or I die.’
“He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above,
but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await
the summons of his Heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why
the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so
natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent
“The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed
pessimist and an optimist the like of which is to be found nowhere else
“When he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the
same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act
all nature and all the world of men. He rejects every human hope out of
Christ because he knows that man’s noblest effort is only dust building
“Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world
the resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good
throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last and the
Christian waits the consummation.