What Manner of Man:

Harmony of “Opposites”
By Linda and Richard Eyre

Note: Each week this column provides a short essay on one particular aspect or facet of the Lord’s personality and character.  It is intended that the reader focus on this facet while partaking of the sacrament this Sunday.  (Click here to read full introductory column.) Review previous columns by going to the What Manner of Man Archives by clicking in the margin to the right.

Christ attained (and exemplified) perfection in every facet, in every shade of life. He is the white, perfect light that gathers and includes every color of every spectrum in the rainbow.

His life stands as the ultimate example of all good traits – even those that, at first, seem to us to be opposites of each other:

            stern standards/tolerance
            susceptibility of grief/deep joy
            ambition/interest in ordinary persons
            self-culture and development/self-denial
            commitment to a cause/patience, freedom from anxiety
            compassion/righteous indignation

It is truly amazing to ponder that list and to realize that Christ combined them, perfected the “opposites” simultaneously. He was completely confident, yet completely humble. He had maximum strength, yet maximum sensitivity. The list goes on and on.

There is greatness in balance, and balance is often the result of two great moral forces, each pulling in opposite directions. Even the earth we live on is held in place by centripetal gravity (holding in) and centrifugal force (holding out).

Danger lurks when one character trait overpowers its opposite. Conviction without sympathy makes the bigot. Liberality without positive conviction of truth leads to thoughtless toleration. Compassion without indignation produces the holy man of the East who peacefully meditates while children around him starve.

Balance is everywhere in the Lord’s teaching.  He didn’t say “love others and not yourself.” He said love others as yourself (see Matthew 19:19), love yourself and others. He wants us to seek the best for ourselves and for others. The concept of “and” was important to Christ. He didn’t want us to develop one good trait at the expense of another. He wanted both, for each of us.

He said, “For their sakes I sanctify myself” (John 17:19). Is He saying that He made himself good so that He could help others make themselves good? To Christ, the sin of selfishness had to do not so much with caring about oneself as with not caring about others.

Christ epitomized perfection not only in the “masculine qualities” of strength and leadership, but also in the “feminine qualities” of sensitivity, loyalty, tenderness, devotion.

He is the ultimate example of the assets of youth – delight, adventure, and freshness – but He is also the ultimate example of the assets of age – wisdom and consistency.

He is the ultimate in “Western values” – practicality and action-orientation – but also in “Eastern qualities” – meditation and thought-orientation.

Jesus Christ is the model for all good, and the example for all people, of any age, of any sex, of any times.

Lao-tzu, who lived six-hundred years before Christ and who created the philosophy followed by hundreds of millions of Taoists today, taught that all things were held in check by two great opposing balancing forces: the yin and the yang. He grouped all opposing forces into these categories – the warm and the cold, the masculine and the feminine, the old and the young. He indicated that if there should ever appear on the earth a being who possessed all the qualities of the yin and all the qualities of the yang, that being would be God.

Again, six hundred years after Lao-tzu’s profound prescription came Jesus Christ.

Closing Note: Many have asked if it is possible to get all of the weekly “facets” or aspects of the Savior from this column in book form.  We now have such a book, and we would like to give it as a gift to you loyal readers who have been with us for these many weeks.  Just send a self addressed, stamped book-sized envelope (the padded ones are best) to us at 1098 Augusta Way, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84108 and we will send you a signed copy.  (You will need to put $1.84 in stamps or postage on your return envelope.) Please respond only if you have been reading and following the column, and please do not ask for more than one copy of the book.  We hope this gift will help you continue this idea, and that it will “link” us with as we think about the same facet together each Sunday.  All our best, Richard and Linda Eyre

2005 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.