And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:14-18
I realize we drew from some of the same verses for the last post, but the text here is so rich I would be remiss to not touch on another point to be made. As highlighted above, we see that grace comes from Jesus as does truth. Too often these two concepts are presented as mutually exclusive. In the person of Jesus both grace and truth comfortably co-exist. We are told that Jesus is FULL OF GRACE, and that he is FULL OF TRUTH.
Grace can simply be defined as receiving something that is neither deserved or earned. Grace is a gift to be accepted and embraced by the recipient. When a deadline is missed and then extended to accommodate extenuating circumstances, that is grace. When something that is 100% your responsibility is picked up and done by a co-worker, that is grace. When Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is accepted by God as the payment for my sin and I am forgiven by God, that is grace. We are saved by grace, it is God’s free gift to us (Ephesians 2:8).
Truth does exist. With the rise of post-modernity it is more common to hear people use the phrase “my truth” than just “the truth.” Perhaps “Biblical truth” will seem more acceptable than just “the truth.” I want to believe that even when we use post-modern language we also acknowledge that there are universal truths or laws applicable to all people. The law of gravity quickly comes to mind. Another universal truth is that we are all fallible, fallen people. All of us have sinned and do not rise to the level of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). However, if all we have is “truth,” it is hard and uncaring.
I am not convinced that its possible to have too much grace. Yet, grace with the absence of truth seems to equate to license. As in the power to do whatever I please whenever I choose at the expense of whomever may be effected by my choices. Truth in the absence of grace leads to a heartless legalism which sets up unattainable rules. Even those judgmentally looking down their noses at the rest of humanity can’t even live up to the standard. No, both grace and truth are necessary and Jesus is the one who is full of both. We who follow Jesus do so between these two poles. While none of us is capable on our own to be full of grace and truth, we can put our confidence in the mystery of the one who is in us (Colossians 1:27). In so doing, perhaps we can extend both grace and truth to those around us in this world which desperately needs both.