Our men's Bible study group began a new series tonight: "Balancing Truth and Grace," by Rob Renfroe, pastor and president of our UMC's Good News Movement. His foundational text for this study comes from John 1:14 which says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth." The focus of our thoughts for this study was that only in Jesus do we find the perfect mix of grace and truth; if our goal as Christians is to be like Jesus, we must work towards balancing these two virtues. No one, and no church, gets it perfect. We tend to lean to one side or the other.
One question we discussed was which side did we tend to emphasize, with some interesting observations. For myself, inwardly I lean to truth. There is right and there is wrong; usually it's pretty clear to me which is which. But when I deal with people, I have a tendency to let things slide. Here's the rub: while that may appear to be grace, I believe more often it is cowardice. Too often I'm worried more about what people think than what God thinks.
Where I genuinely live out grace is in my not giving up on people. I know how much I depend on God's grace; my reasoning is, "How can I refuse grace to others when I need it so much myself?" But there are also times when I should speak up and confront bad behavior, but instead let it slide. Not giving up on people is grace; not confronting bad behavior is cowardice. They are easily confused, but they are vastly different. It is not grace to allow a small child to wander into traffic. If I should see that happening, it is incumbent upon me to see the dangerous truth and intervene instead of allowing that child to continue towards its destruction.
Tonight I am thankful for our men's group, for these guys who help me sort out important issues of life and faith, and for the insight I gained from our discussion tonight. Tomorrow I will rise and step onto the tightrope holding the balance pole of truth and grace. May I lean into the cultural wind with the right balance for each moment, so I may walk with firm and faithful steps to the goal.