I recently concluded a teaching series at our church called On the Table, where we put major questions Christians are often asked on the table. Some of the questions felt more theological such as “How can we trust the Bible?” and “Is Jesus the only way?” Some of the questions felt more cultural such as “What does God think about gender dysphoria?” and “Why does God care about sex?” But in reality, all the questions were theological, cultural, and personal. Our stated goal at the beginning of the teaching series was to meet each question with both grace and truth because both Jesus and His Word are filled with grace and truth.
1. The goal is to be full of both grace and truth, not to find a balance of grace and truth.
A balance of grace and truth gives the impression that our approach is mixed, half with grace and half with truth. Jesus is not balanced between grace and truth; He is full of grace and truth. Randy Alcorn wrote, “Grace without truth deceives people, and ceases to be grace. Truth without grace crushes people, and ceases to be truth.” To offer grace without truth in an attempt to be loving is not really loving, and to offer truth without grace in an attempt to prove how truthful you are presents an untrue version of our faith. Francis Schaeffer reminds us, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.”
2. Being hated or dismissed does not mean we are not full of grace or truth.
In a world that holds tolerance as a chief value, we can sometimes feel that if people hate our beliefs as too narrow, or dismiss our approach as too kind, we have somehow missed on either the grace side or the truth side. But Jesus, as He walked this Earth, was always and perfectly full of grace and truth, and He said the world hated Him . When you are full of grace and truth, it does not guarantee that people won’t hate your views; it guarantees that some will.
3. The more confident we are in our positions, the more compassionate we can be to people.
In her insightful and helpful book, Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcy reminds us that those who are confident in their positions are free to be compassionate. We can hold our positions without being defensive or attacking others because we are secure and convinced. The retorts thrown our way don’t rattle us and we can answer with gentleness. We can hold to the truth without wondering if being kind and loving to others is somehow violating our convictions. Throughout the teaching series, I had many conversations with people who disagreed with positions I took and with convictions I expressed, but who essentially said, “I felt you valued me and respected me.” I did and I do.
It is likely much easier to live and teach without a commitment to both grace AND truth. But if we did that, we would miss the joy of becoming more like our Savior.