I have recently finished reading Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. I’ve heard it quoted all my life, but never took the plunge in reading it. I will tell you, it’s not for the fainthearted. Long paragraphs, no white space, and complex ideas make it a challenge to read, but so worth the effort, for it is full of treasures to behold. One of my favorites was actually found on the last of its pages. Allow me to share:
All the real argument about religion turns on the question of whether a man who was born upside down can tell when he comes right way up. The primary paradox of Christianity is that the ordinary condition of man is not his sane or sensible condition; that the normal itself is an abnormality. That is the inmost philosophy of the Fall.
The idea that God allows our entrance into this world become the chief illustration of our sinful nature makes me smile. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing is missed by God, and that is glorious.
What is it that releases us from this perpetual state of abnormality? First, it is our recognition of the reality. We want to be good, to do good, to feel good about the state of affairs, but as much as we try, we cannot. Our life is upside down, and we cannot flip ourselves upright. We’re stuck in a constant state of down-ness.
Once we realize that no effort on our part or the part of man or philosophy can help, the next step toward change is to recognize the only solution possible. It comes through the One, who, though he entered the world upside down so he could feel for us, never lived that reality. Jesus Christ was the perfect man, come from God, of God, one with God. It was his sacrifice and resurrection that made it possible for us to find restoration and reconciliation with God.
The Fall is real and expresses itself in each one of us. Our “normal” state is our “sinful” state. There is no getting around it. We’re born with it, when we come into the world — upside down.
Only when we have relationship with God through Christ do we know we’ve truly flipped! Not gone crazy, but been put right-side up, made righteous with God. That’s when we realize our new normal state with God is an abnormality to the world. That’s when the work begins as we live out our righteousness before a lost and dying world.
Are you upside down or right-side up? I hope you can tell the difference.
Grace and Peace