Grace and Truth

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

I have always said that grace and truth are twins.  I have been thinking a great deal lately about the tension between grace and truth in some of the situations I have been dealing with as a pastor.  I have been reading Andy Stanley’s book “Deep and Wide” and it was one of those books that affirmed my thoughts and simply put into words some thoughts I would like to share with you today. Thoughts that will challenge the way you think.

In a typical week as a pastor, I deal with everything from broken marriages, to benevolent cases, hospital visits, finding leaders and servants, deciding how to deal with different situations, and the list goes on and on.  And in making decisions about these situations, there is something in me that wants a definitive answer on every aspect of every issue.  I want to be gracious, but I want to do that in truth.  This is a challenge because there’s is a tension between the two.

Jesus had a remarkable approach to this tension between truth and grace in John 1. John, an eyewitness to much of what Jesus did, put it this way in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And a few verses later, He repeats this phrase by saying, “ For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  Notice the scripture says “full of grace and truth”…not a balance between, but the full embodiment of both.  Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth or try to even them up.  He brought the full measure of both. Andy Stanley writes in his book, Deep and Wide, “With Jesus there is no conflict between grace and truth.”

We often see the conflict because we sometimes think grace allows us to “get by” with things or we misunderstand truth and thinks it leaves people isolated and condemned.  But with Jesus, it does not have to be this way!

This is challenging for us because it does not seem to be fair.  There is tension when grace and truth meet and it gets messy.  If we continue to try to be consistent and fair, we will always struggle with grace and truth.  If you read through the gospels, you will find it very difficult to find one example of Jesus being fair.  He didn’t heal everyone, he allowed some to die and some to live, and have you ever thought about the contrast between the rich young ruler and the thief on the cross?  Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give it away in order to be one of His disciples and yet He looked at the thief on the cross who had lived a life of sin and said, “today you will be with me in paradise.”  How are these things fair?  The reality is that they are not fair.  In fact, if Jesus were fair, we would all be doomed to hell because of our sin.  Think about it…”the wages of sin is death.”  Therefore, the right thing…the fair thing is for us to be condemned to hell because of our sin.  Praise Jesus for not being “fair” but instead being “gracious” and giving us the gift of eternal life instead.

Think about this from a church’s perspective.  If a church continues to operate on fairness, it will eventually lead to non-engagement!  This is challenging as a pastor!  I have been known to say, “If we do it for one, we will have to do it for everyone.”  Where is that scripturally?  Jesus would say, “no you don’t…I didn’t.”  If we keep this attitude of fairness and consistency, we will end up doing for none because we can’t do for everyone.  Stanley further quotes, “I’ve seen a commitment to consistency get in the way of ministry.”  I don’t think any of us want anything in our churches getting in the way of ministry.  We must fully embrace grace and truth and understand that they are not always equal or even fair.  In fact, embracing the full dose of grace and truth in people’s lives often gets very messy uncomfortable.

 

 

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