June 8, 2013 in City

Truth and grace go hand in hand

Steve Massey
About this column

Three times a month, community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg, of Spokane, retired Methodist minister Paul Graves, of Sandpoint, and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

Christians can be both.

Let’s be gracious. And let’s be truthful.

Christians can, and must, be both.

We don’t have to believe the popular lie that to be gracious we cannot be truthful. Or, worse yet, that for us to speak the truth reveals a lack of grace.

Grace and truth go together. They’re not in conflict.

The false dichotomy that pits grace against truth was in full view this week as Coeur d’Alene passed its anti-discrimination ordinance. Despite opposition to the ordinance among many Christians, Tuesday’s 5-1 vote by the City Council was as predictable as the city’s beautiful summer sunsets.

No surprise there.

What did surprise me this week was uncertainty among many Christians about whether it was right, or productive, to openly oppose the proposal. Is it an ungracious action to oppose a law that seemingly validates a sinful lifestyle? Is speaking the truth akin to condemning prejudice?

To be a Christian is to believe in and follow Jesus Christ as savior and lord. We can look to Jesus and follow his example when it comes to navigating the rough waters of living in a culture that increasingly rejects God’s ways.

Jesus was always gracious. Jesus was always truthful.

Here’s what the Scripture says in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Did you catch that last part? Grace and truth go together; they’re not in conflict. Grace and truth exist in harmony.

Jesus was full of grace and truth. And so must be his followers.

Grace means we do not condemn others, no matter what their lifestyle choices. There’s no place for judgmental hostility against another person. Has not God extended grace to us sinners by sending his son to live a perfect life we could not live, then die a death that paid the penalty for our failure to meet his righteous standards?

The cross of Jesus is an emblem of grace.

But don’t miss the other side of the same cross. Jesus’ death was necessitated by our sin. At Calvary, Jesus boldly and publicly proclaimed the truth of our sinfulness, our need for his grace, and then died to ensure that God’s forgiveness could be extended to all who believe in and follow Christ.

Christians mirror Christ’s grace by extending love, kindness and the hope of God’s restoration to others. And Christians mirror Christ’s truthfulness by calling sin what it really is: sin.

Grace and truth go together.

As we’ve seen in recent days, living graciously and truthfully in the world will not always be easy. Just ask the pastors in Coeur d’Alene who gently, but clearly, opposed the city’s new ordinance.

Christian friend, you’ll likely receive little trouble from the world if you’re gracious without being truthful. And be sure of this: You’ll deserve every ounce of trouble you get if you’re truthful yet ungracious.

But to harmonize the two virtues often is to suffer as Christ suffered.

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master,’ ” Jesus said to his disciples. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

The one who personified grace and truth was rejected for it by many people. We should expect no less.

This week’s controversy in Coeur d’Alene seemed to pit grace against truth. But let’s not be fooled, because more such encounters are surely coming.

Let’s remember to be gracious. And let’s remember to be truthful.

Don’t believe the lie.

Christians can, and must, be both.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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