The Gospel Flies with the Wings of Grace and Truth
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
When Jesus walked on this earth, the Bible tells us he was full of grace and truth. It’s remarkable, because as fallen humans we seem to naturally tilt way too far to one side or the other - churches that are strong on truth often struggle with grace, and those filled with grace have many times seemingly abandoned truth. Why is this important? Why should we as Christians also be filled with grace and truth?
It’s hard to believe that nearly a quarter century ago I abandoned truth and embraced a lie. By the summer of 1995 I’d been wrestling with my sexual identity for almost eight years. I longed with all my heart for a godly Christian man to show me a way through this, for someone to say, “I’ve been there too, and there is hope,” but when I finally opened up the person who’d help bring me to Christ and acted in many ways as a surrogate father, instead of grace and mercy I experienced cold rejection. My “coming out” was not an act of arrogant defiance; it was capitulation. The enemy had me; tired, alone, the only way forward seemed to be acceptance of my doomed fate. I figured if I was destined for hell I might as well enjoy the ride on my way down…
Years later I was attending a huge LGBT Memorial Day festival in Pensacola, FL; on my way to one of the parties stood a group from a local church, holding up signs that said how evil we were and that God was going to send us to hell. Theologically they were correct - our sin did separate us from God, and without Jesus the punishment was eternity in hell - but the same applied to anyone who wasn’t in Christ. No bridges were built - just more walls that said God had no place for sinners like us. I’m so thankful for the opposing message of my parents, who at that time were a living example of grace and truth. They never once gave approval to the life I had chosen, but when they made an effort to be a part of my life and get to know my partner at the time, it created major fractures in the walls around my heart. It was easy to dismiss protesters with signs, but genuine love was irresistible…
Randy Alcorn shares his thoughts about grace and truth in his blog entry “The Gospel Flies with the Wings of Grace and Truth.” In it he describes an encounter with a lesbian activist with whom he shared lunch. At first he found himself on the receiving end of a tsunami of hurt and anger as the woman bombarded him with swear words and stories of Christians who’d hurt her. How did Randy react? “People stared. But that was okay. Jesus went to the cross for her—the least I could do was listen.”
All the sudden the woman was sobbing. What happened next? “I reached across the table and took her hand. For the next two hours I heard her story, her heartsickness, her doubts about the causes she championed. I told her about Christ’s grace. After four hours we walked out of that restaurant, side by side. We hugged.”
At no point did Randy Alcorn abandon the truth of the Bible or the gospel in his meeting with this individual. I say individual instead of “lesbian activist” because we are not just issues, but all people made in God’s image, and all people who were made to be loved. In his conclusion, Alcorn wrote this:
In our conversation, truth wasn’t shared at the expense of grace, or grace at the expense of truth.
Birds need two wings to fly. With only one wing, they’re grounded. The gospel flies with the wings of grace and truth. Not one, but both.
As we think about the balance of grace and truth, let’s all take a moment for self-reflection and ask, “Am I flying with both wings?”