Seven Central ParadigmsJun 21, 2023
Blog by Gem Fadling
Every once in a while I like to reflect on all God has taught me over the previous few months or years. In many ways that’s what my books What Does Your Soul Love? and Hold That Thought are—a gathering of life lessons learned at the feet of Jesus.
Recently I journaled what I see as my current and central paradigms. I am grateful for the grace of God shining a light for me in these important areas. Each of these informs how I view God, myself, and others. Over time I long to grow in love in all three relationships.
This list is not exhaustive and does not represent all that is important to me. But it is a good start, and it does embody what I hold dear in this season.
God Is Love
God is love (1 John 4:16). God is not elsewhere (Acts 17:28). The profound simplicity of this reality is life-changing.
God Is Expansive
God is big and expansive, and I am invited into that fullness. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (Col. 2:9-10a)
I cannot wrap my mind around this, but I embrace it as the truth and long to experience it more and more.
Engage the Way of Love
Viewing life as a zero-sum game (winners and losers) is the lowest form of relational thinking. Beware of either/or, this/that, us/them binary thinking. It’s too small to encapsulate the complexities of life.
The way of love leads to higher character, which leads to higher relating, living, and working. A good question to ask is, What is the third way? I’ve found that the third way leads with love. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:7)
Character Is Vital
Our leadership comes from within—who we are. Who I’m becoming matters more than what I’m achieving. What do my achievements matter if my insides don’t match my outsides?
“All the church needs to fulfill Christ’s purposes on earth is the quality of life he makes real in the life of his disciples.” (Dallas Willard)
God’s Ways Span Cultures
God is both personal and transcendent. The fact that God is personal doesn’t negate God’s transcendence. God doesn’t work one way for one individual or group but a different way for others. For example, God meets me, a fairly wealthy North American, in the same spirit as he meets a woman living in poverty in rural Ethiopia. God is present to each of us personally, but the ways of God are transcendent, transcending our different cultures and socioeconomic conditions. The implications of this are important because a gospel that only works for some is in no way good news. The message of the gospel must work for everyone or for no one.
My View of Time Matters
Time is neither our enemy nor our boss. I have personal agency and get to decide how I spend my time. I understand this may look different depending on one’s life circumstances, and I acknowledge it is easier for those whose basic needs are already met. But if I have such freedom, then it’s good to exercise it and not remain dominated by time. Time is a resource, not a boss.
Presence Is Primary
Presence is central to one’s overall personal health and connection to others. The present moment is where everything happens. We live our lives linearly, which means we can look back to the past or forward to the future along our timelines. This can sometimes lead to regret or worry. So I have learned to practice the present moment and engage God’s grace that is here and now. Presence is a beautiful and necessary spiritual practice, especially in our driven and distracted culture.
I wonder if you might have a few central paradigms bubbling under the surface. Try giving yourself time to write down what you consider to be important wisdom in your current season. It might even become something you want to share with others.
- Set aside some time to journal your own current central paradigms.
- What is important to you?
- What has God deepened within you lately?
- What truths and values are you basing your life on right now?
- How does that affect what you share with others?