By Kyle Idleman
People listened to him for his wisdom. Yet he said things that seemed paradoxical. He would challenge you with his words; cause you to mull them over to make sense of them, for his way of thinking was not an ordinary way of thinking. He hasn’t been with us, walking the earth, sharing in our mortality, for awhile now, but people still remember what he said.
I speak, of course, of Yogi Berra. Yogi wowed people by saying things like:
- I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4.
- Always go to other people’s funerals otherwise they won’t go to yours.
- Never answer an anonymous letter.
- It’s like deju vu all over again.
- Ninety percent of this game is half mental.
And then there were his oxymoronic statements. When Yogi would say something, and it just didn’t seem like his statement could possibly be true.
- Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.
- When you get to a fork in the road, take it.
- We have a good time together, even when we’re not together.
- Our similarities are different.
- It gets late early around here.
- I didn’t really say everything I said.
There was another man who people listened to for wisdom. He also said things that seemed paradoxical. Like Yogi he challenged people with his unordinary way of thinking, causing them to mull over his words. But the words of Jesus not only mystified, they captured people’s hearts. And his words changed the lives of people who chose to base their lives on them.
Jesus began his first recorded sermon with what we call the beatitudes. The beatitudes were a series of statements each starting with “Blessed are you when…” Jesus was telling people how to live a life that is blessed by God. We might call it a happy life, but what Jesus is offering us is way deeper and better than happiness. The problem is that people are hesitant to apply these statements to their lives because they are … well, paradoxical. For instance, Jesus said things like:
- You’re rich when you’re poor.
- Happy are you when you mourn.
- Blessed are you when you’re persecuted.
Jesus invites us to live an inverted life in his upside down kingdom. Not many choose the narrow path that leads to it, but blessed are those who do.
In The End Of Me, one of my recent small group bible studies, I explore the paradoxical beatitudes of Jesus and how we can build our lives on them, and find our lives in them. At IAmNotEnough.com we are started a movement of people who are declaring that they are choosing the narrow path and truly living not as fans but as followers of Jesus.
One more Yogi Berra quote. He’s perhaps most famous for saying, “It’s not over till it’s over.” I don’t know about that, but I’ve got another quote from Jesus for you. He said, “If you want to save your life, you have to lose it.”
Jesus is saying when I stop living for me I start living. Turns out the end of me is where true life begins. Turns out when it’s over, you’re just starting.