Red light. Grace light.
You are the second car at a red light. The light turns green and the person in front of you doesn’t move. What do you do?
Honk right away?
Wait for a few moments and then honk?
Let the people behind you do the honking for you?
Or, in my case, have your horn honked for you by the wonderful passenger to whom you’ve been married to for 20 years?
Truth and grace lie on a spectrum.
There are those of us, the quick honkers, who place a high value on truth. We proclaim boldly, point out errors clearly and are strong proponents of the counsel of Scripture that all must adhere to. At the crossroads and roadblocks of life, we seek the wisdom of these truth bearers.
Others, those deferring the proclamation of the horn, reside in a more relationally sensitive mode. These people are great burden-bearers, fantastic listeners and the type of friend you want to call first when your soul is hurting.
John 1 tells us that Jesus, God in the flesh, is both grace and truth. Not only was Jesus full of grace and truth, He is the way to gain access to these two desirable facets of life. Scripture clearly proclaims that grace and truth come through Jesus (John 1:17). Contrary to our best guesses, Jesus isn’t at the middle of the spectrum. Jesus is found at the both ends of the spectrum at the same time! He is fully truth. He is fully grace.
We all know what truth sounds like. We all know what grace feels like. But somehow, Jesus ushers both into our world. He is the one who can share truth with us that doesn’t make us want to run away. He is the horn that honks in such a way that the person in front of him doesn’t feel dumb or judged.
God whispered this phrase to me and it has revolutionized how I conceptually, practically and relationally understand grace and truth:
“Truth sees people as they really are–grace draws them closer.”
Ungodly, ungracious truth places a magnifying glass on the lives of people and haughtily declares, “Aha! That’s who you are! Those are your actions, here are your motives and that’s you in a nutshell.”
In my life, I’ve used truth to push people away from me. Once I’ve figured someone out, I have the needed excuse and permission granted to not get too close to them. The declaration of truth can be a means for keeping people at arms length so we don’t have to connect with them. As they say in sports, “The best defense is a good offense.” In our sin, we reason that if we go at others with the truth, you won’t have to connect.
The problem is this: Jesus, full of grace and truth, knows us as we really are, but uses this knowledge not to create distance or disconnection, but to draw us closer to Him.
Contrary to almost every other relationship we experience in this life, Jesus uses His infinite knowledge of us to run towards us–not away from us. Jesus knows us completely and perfectly, yet longs to be close to us. He is the Great Shepherd of Ezekiel 34 who is in pursuit of His lost sheep: us!
As a follower of Jesus, as a disciple of Jesus, we too should seek to be full of grace and truth. We too should be ready to declare and proclaim truth to the people around us, but also draw close in the strength of God’s grace. Not honking our horns in prideful truth-telling or using grace as an excuse to avoid those moments when a horn is needed. We need to be ready with open arms to embrace the brokenness, sinfulness and shortcomings in the fellow sinners that we are encounter on the road of life or find ourselves stuck behind at a green light.
How have you seen or felt God’s perfect grace and truth in your life? Who do you need to show grace and truth to today?
Read an earlier post by Craig here.
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