“Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” John 17:17
The national symbol of our country is an eagle. In his left talon are 13 arrows; his right talon holds an olive branch. This symbolizes that we are a nation who desires peace, but is prepared for war. In a similar way, Jesus always brings two things to the table. In one hand, He gives grace; but in the other hand, He gives truth. He is never one-sided in His approach to people.
There is a caricature of Jesus in our culture today that wants to make Him into our image. This Jesus is tolerant of everything and everyone. He fits perfectly into the prevailing idea that it is wrong to ever tell anyone they are wrong about anything. Yale Divinity School Professor H. Richard Ninebuhr said we have created a make-believe spiritual fantasy where, “A God without wrath brings men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministry of a Christ without a cross.” We want to speak grace…but we must also unwaveringly speak God’s truth.
Grace and truth is not an either/or…it is a both/and. We cannot be half grace and half truth. We must, like Jesus, be all grace and all truth. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus was full of both grace and truth. Full. If we are full of Christ, we must also be full of both grace and truth.
Most of us lean one way or the other based on our upbringing and experiences. Grace-leaners are easy to be around. They accept us for who we are, but they will never help us become who we are intended to be. Truth-leaners, on the other hand, can be more difficult. While they inspire us with their courage and conviction, they can also turn us off with their intimidation. Something is wrong if everyone hates you, but something is just as wrong if everyone loves you.
We desperately need both grace and truth in our lives. Grace says: There is a way to God for anyone. Truth says: There is only one way to God. Grace says: Redemption is possible. Truth says: Repentance is necessary. Grace says: I love you just the way you are. Truth says: I love you too much to let you stay that way. Grace says: God is love. Truth says: God is holy. Grace says: You are saved by grace through faith. Truth says: Faith without works is dead.
Grace and truth work perfectly together, giving us a clear picture of God’s character. The more full we are of Jesus, the more full we will be of grace and truth. We need grace. We need truth. We need Jesus.
God, Thank You for the fullness of grace and truth found in Jesus. Help me to grow to be more and more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.