We live in a world where truth is fluid. There’s my truth, your truth, their truth…
This worldly “truth” has two components: You should feel good, but you shouldn’t offend anyone. We are expected to live by our own truth, but accept the truth of others, only viewing them in a standard of “grace”. Our current culture tends to value our feelings over biblical truths, and we must direct ourselves away from the idea of fluid truth. And right now I’m sure some of you are wondering “but what about grace?”
A common misconception is that we must differentiate grace from truth, or that grace is complete acceptance. But when we begin to view it this way, we see that truth is discounted and takes a back seat to accepting the world as it is. However, if you are so grace-focused that you alienate truth, you reject the example Christ gives us. If you are so truth-focused that you alienate grace, you do the same. Both have to harmoniously exist in fullness in order to follow Christ’s example.
We must not attempt to take away from truth in order for grace to prevail. We also must not attempt to do the opposite. We must deny this notion that God’s grace opposes his truth.
When we see Jesus at the well with the woman caught in adultery, he speaks truth (“go and sin no more”) and grace (“neither do I condemn you”). There is not a time for grace and a separate time for truth – they are to be used simultaneously. At no point is God all grace and no truth, or vice-versa. He is constantly 100% grace and 100% truth. Shouldn’t we strive for that rather than attempt to balance the two in part?
I work with a ministry that goes into strip clubs and sex shops in our community to bring gifts to the women that work there and talk with them. On an outreach with this ministry one night, I met a girl who we’ll call Rachel (not her real name, for her protection). The club she told us she had recently left was right across the street from a church. She explained to us that she had quit working there because she was tired of being publicly chastised by this church. Rachel told us that members of this church would sometimes go to the extent of yelling degrading terms at them from across the street as they went inside, all the while telling them that they would end up in hell for what they were doing.
We hear this story a lot in the commercial sex industry. My heart hurts for Rachel and those like her who have been so devastatingly hurt by the church. This is why we have to get this right. As the body of Christ we so often miss this, but truly we really cannot afford to. We must meet people with truth and grace, not legalism. Only then will they experience Christ through us in a way that invites them in rather than turning them away at the door.
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