Where Grace and Truth Meet
by Tom Goodman
April 28, 2010
It's amazing how you can change a sentence -- and your witness -- by replacing the world "but" with the word "and."
I once had a guy lecture me on my failings as a preacher. He wasn't a church member, but he showed up one Sunday and then let me know I had been much too gentle in my approach to a controversial topic. I felt I had been clear on what the Bible had to
say on the matter, but I acknowledged that I believed it was better to lead people to the truth rather than to drive them.
With a dismissive wave of his hand he said, "Yeah, I believe in that 'love thy neighbor' stuff but" -- and he pounded his fist in his palm for emphasis -- "it's all about truth."
I replied, "Friend, if I said, 'Yeah, I believe in that 'defend the truth' stuff, but it's all about love," you would probably say I don't put much emphasis on truth. So what do you think I've just concluded about your focus on love?"
Here's a quiz: What's the best sentence of the following two?
"Of course we need to be loving, but we can't sacrifice truth in the process."
"Of course we need to uphold truth, but we can't sacrifice love in the process."
The answer: None of the above.
Both of those sentences could be improved if you replaced the word "but" with the word "and" instead. Try it now and see how it changes the sentence -- and your witness.
Truth and Love. Truth involves hard edges, definitions that aren't squishy, and assessments that lead to uncompromising conclusions. Love involves patience, gentle words, and the sensitivity that comes from understanding another
person's fears, prejudices, and misjudgments.
It's hard to get the combination of these things right. It's so much easier to be famous for just one or the other -- and we're all about choosing the easier path. So, we defend truth with little regard for whom we offend, or we obscure truth for fear
of offense. More than that, we gravitate to churches that affirm our imbalance. As a result, some churches are known for truth devoid of love, and others are known for love devoid of truth.
I read that "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). If we claim to represent him, we'll consider both important, too.
Weblog: Check out my blog, "Get Anchored," with its Links to Your World -- interesting and informative links, posted every Tuesday.
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