John wrote that Jesus came to us in glory from the Father, “full of grace and truth.”
I’m sure I could divide the readers of this devotional into two groups: grace people and truth people. We have some people who prefer to view their world—their concept of God, the Bible, their faith, other people—through the lens of God’s grace, and we have others who prefer to view all those things through the lens of truth—God’s truth, which sheds light on our own sinfulness. When we rely too heavily on one of those lenses, when we prioritize one over the other, we are left with a distorted picture of reality. If we claim just one—grace OR truth—without the other, at best we are in error. At worst, we are denying who Jesus, who is full of grace AND truth, really is.
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great coined the term ‘the genius of and.’ He was using it in a business sense, but in a broader sense, Jesus was the true originator and embodiment of that principle. I’ve found that as believers we often love the dichotomy of ‘either/or’ and struggle with the tension of ‘both/and.’ We find ourselves gravitating toward the ‘either/or’ passages in Scripture because we (especially truth people) like when there is a definite boundary between two categories. But Jesus defies categories. Jesus is the personification of the ‘genius of and.’
All the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Jesus. That means the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit reside in him. Theologians (and us common folk) have struggled with the tension that truth presents for centuries, and we have also struggled with the tension between grace and truth. Jesus was 100% full of grace and 100% full of truth. Everything hinges on that! A Gospel without the truth of human sinfulness is rendered powerless, for what is there to be saved from without truth exposing how we miss the mark? A Gospel void of the power of grace is meaningless, for how can we be delivered from the truth of our sinfulness without sufficient grace to set us free from it? We can’t be heavy on truth and light on grace or heavy on grace and light on truth. Either of those options leaves us without the fullness of Jesus. With God, it’s hard truth—truth that exposes exactly who we are—and it’s ridiculous grace—grace that meets us right where we are.
One of my favorite expressions of this grace/truth union is in the account of Jesus with the woman at the well. Because Jesus was full of grace, he wasn’t afraid to break numerous customs of the day to reach her. She was a woman. She was of a different ethnicity. And as Jesus approached her in this Samaritan town, a place where he didn’t belong, his disciples, who didn’t understand what was happening, looked on in profound confusion. Jesus had the audacity to tell this woman in no uncertain terms that she had a past riddled with sin. Then he followed that harsh truth by revealing himself as the Messiah, the one who takes away sin. He extended grace to her. This woman told her whole town what happened, and many people became believers! I love what it was that compelled her to believe. Her testimony was this: “He told me everything I did.” In other words, “He knew me.” He knew the truth about her and didn’t reject, condemn, or judge her. He showed her the love of the Savior.
I want to get better at being like Jesus, being able to step into the truth of people’s lives and extend God’s grace. I also want to get better at accepting the truth of my inadequacies and believing that God’s grace is made perfect in my weakness. After all, He knows us all and still loves us all. Oh, the wonder of grace and truth!
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