Recently, my friend Wilmer shared a devotional on John 1:14. It says (NIV) ‘The Word became flesh and lived for awhile 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.”
His point (Wilmer’s- but I think John’s too!) is that when God revealed himself in Jesus, The Word, he did so in fullness and completeness. And that fullness combined Grace and Truth. This is an important mix. These two attributes of God’s nature are fundamental in understanding who God is.
So often, our misunderstandings as followers of Jesus can be attributed to failing to understand this paradox. Our conflicts often come down to applying one of these at the expense of the other. Yes, truth is vitally important. But truth defended without grace is lacking some of God’s fullness. Grace is the overarching theme of Christianity. But grace given without regard for the truth is dangerous.
We need to balance the two and rest in the middle. When truth alone is pushed to its extreme, it can lead a follower of Jesus to become judgmental, self-righteousness and eventually toxic in his or her attitude to others. Likewise, if grace alone is given and pushed to an extreme, it can lead a Christian to acceptance, tolerance, indifference and finally sin.
So what is our response? If the Word of God, Jesus, is living among us, who is defined as being full of grace and truth, let us and our message match this wonderful description. May our lives, our attitudes towards others, our choices and actions be full of grace and truth. May both the message we give and the person we seek to introduce to the unsaved be floodlighted with the message of grace and truth. May we seek to balance what is right and faithful with what is loving and merciful.
When confronting the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8, Jesus concludes this way: “Where are your accusers? Did not even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord”, she answered. And Jesus said “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” This is a wonderful illustration of blending grace and truth. Both what is right and what is merciful are brought together in one spot.
Isn’t this what Jesus did on the cross? At the cross, judgment and forgiveness met. On the cross, God combined truth and his grace. This is a good model for us to practice in the body of Christ.
Pastor Tim Bertsche