Thursday, November 17, 2016

Grace and Truth

In John 1, the apostle declared that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Wow.

Let’s think about that. As I see it, grace and truth do not lie at either ends of a spectrum. That separates them too far from each other. However, I do think they have to be held in tension. Both are needed in the life of any follower of Jesus.

We can’t utilize one without the other, however. For example, we can’t be all about truth and ignore grace. In other words, we can’t JUST be concerned about truth. When we lose touch with grace, we become hardened and calloused toward others. If all we care but is truth, we miss the opportunity to carefully express truth. Our expressions are uncaring and can even be damaging to others.

On the other hand, we can’t be all about grace. If we JUST are concerned about grace, we can lose touch with the truth. When this happens, we lose any sense of judgement or discernment. We can become people who don’t really believe anything—thus, anything goes. This too, can be damaging to others.

Somehow, we must aspire to be like Jesus—namely, full of grace AND truth. We must learn to embrace the truths of the Gospel and learn to express them graciously. We don’t have the option of just believing. We have to behave as well.

So, when we encounter difficult and sensitive topics—we must keep this in mind. As I observed the debate at our annual meeting as Texas Baptists, I kept thinking about grace and truth. We were discussing the very sensitive topic of human sexuality. We all know our society is embroiled in a debate about it. Churches are debating it as well.

My personal conviction about human sexuality is in line with the historic, orthodox Christian position. However, as I live out that commitment to truth and express my belief in it—I must do so graciously.

I will not surrender my belief. I am committed to it. But I am also just as committed to express my beliefs through both gracious words and gracious behavior. It is hard to do. But, I must follow the example of Jesus. In the famous story of John 8:1-11, Jesus shows us how to do it. I would encourage you to read that text and look for grace and truth.

I am praying for myself as we navigate the challenges we face today. I am praying for you as well.