“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” –John 1:14
Grace and truth – two small words large with meaning. Although they oppose and contradict each other at times, they live in complete harmony within the heart and mind of God. A paradox for humanity, but integral characteristics of God: “For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the subject of grace and truth lately. Not subjects, plural, but subject, singular, because my focus hasn’t been on the definition of the individual words, but rather on navigating the tension that exists between the two. This past week my heart has been broken as I’ve witnessed, first-hand, how failing to navigate this particular tension has cost us dearly and divided us horribly.
Truth does not equal law. Grace does not eliminate truth. We cannot love one and despise the other. There are many, particularly within the church, who have allowed fear to define their version of truth. And there are many, often those wounded by the church, who have created a version of grace that loves and accepts just about everyone except the “traditional” church. Both claim to love Jesus, yet neither love each other well.
It’s not okay. We cannot “maintain the unity of the Spirit” let alone ever attain “the unity of faith” if we don’t learn to love and honor those with whom we disagree within the body of Christ. We can’t just love those who think just like us; and we can’t just love the lost and the broken. Nope, sorry, we need to learn love the ones we’ve attached convenient dismissive labels to: such as “heretic” or “liberal” on one side; and ”legalist” or “Pharisee” on the other. Only God can judge the heart and if someone has trusted in the shed blood of Jesus for salvation then we need to embrace them – even in our differences – as a brother or sister. We are often so busy labeling each other and taking the speck out of each other’s eyes, that we continually fail to see the log in our own.
Jesus IS the Truth – that will never change. He is also full of grace – that, too, will never change. But oh how I pray that we will change! For his sake, for our sake, and for the sake of those watching and waiting to see an authentic demonstration of his love within the church … we must.
Lord, Help us to see the facets of your character missing from our own in the faces of those with whom we disagree. Teach us to walk in truth without forgetting grace; and to walk in grace without denying truth. Jesus, you are filled with both truth and grace – my desire is to be so close to your heart that I am too. Amen.