Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)has a long history of helping people win the battle with alcohol. Within AA exists four paradoxes, four principles that on the surface seem to make no sense at all but actually make all the sense in the world. They are …
- We surrender to win.
- We give away to keep.
- We suffer to get well.
- We die to live.
From a human perspective, no one ever wins by surrendering. The one who surrenders is the one who has lost the battle and given up. How can you keep what you give away? Who wants to suffer? Isn’t that the opposite of feeling good? Could it be that feeling good is not necessarily the same as getting well? If you die, how can you still be very much alive?
For someone who has gone through the AA process and found sobriety, these paradoxes make sense.
They also should seem familiar to any Christ-follower because Jesus taught the same paradoxes. But dont’ worry, they didn’t seem to make much sense to that audience either.
To AA’s list, Jesus would add another paradox: to be a leader, one must be a servant (Luke 22:24-28). A true leader is not the one who waits to be served but the one who takes the initiative to serve others. To a world consumed with consumerism, that doesn’t sound right.
To follow Jesus effectively, one must be comfortable with several things. Sacrifice. Obedience. Persecution. Even paradoxes.